Monday, February 26, 2007


for all your well wishes and concern. It means a LOT to me.

Yesterday, I was pretty much in a state of shock over the whole thing. Of course it still makes no sense to me. It seems to unfair! He was doing so well, even on the chemo, and I know he had a lot of things he wanted to do and was in the process of doing. But I did learn recently that the chemo itself may lead to a heart attack, even 5 years in remission, so I suspect that is what happened. He appeared to go peacefully, so that is something to be grateful for.

I'm sure I did not sleep more than an hour or two last night. I couldn't shut my mind off. There were so many things I had to do, so many things I had wanted to do, so many things I wished I had done. And so many things left unsaid. That is the hardest part of a sudden death--the wish-I-would haves--the why-didn't-I's--or the if onlys. No matter what I did for my dad, it wasn't enough. So many things I'll never be able to do now. At least that's how I feel right now. I know it will take time to get over this, and I appreciate all of you being there.

The funeral will be Thursday. I made arrangements today, and I think I made it nice for him. When my mom died, my dad was devastated and made a lot of bad decisions on how we handled things, and I never felt right about the way things ended up. Since it was my decision mostly to make this time, I wanted things to be right.

In the meantime, understand I probably won't go to your blogs for a few days. Its not that I'm not thinking of you, its just that I want to focus my thoughts on him and what needs to be done in the days ahead. If anyone wants to contact me via phone, let me know by e-mail. Maybe we can talk. My e-mail is Thanks.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


I got a call on the way back to town today that my dad had died. Unexpected, obviously! He was doing so well too. Just so hard to believe right now.

Not much info other than it looks like he went peacefully. I'll check back when I can and update.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


It started last night actually. A weekend at an up-north cottage with a group of women who generally train together. Most are multi-time iron finishers, most with sub 13 hour finishes. The others are ultra marathoners or at least multi marathoners. All have qualified for Boston at one time or another. So why am I included with this group?? Believe me, I have no idea.

The invitation came a couple of weeks ago. Maybe I got included accidentally on a group e-mail. But once I responded, I was in, whether I was really invited or not. Truthfully, I was hoping I'd be somewhere warm by now, so I hesitated in responding one way or another until the last minute. Another reason I hesitated was I just don't feel worthy of this group! Okay, okay, I know I'm as good as they are as a person, but I'm talking about athletic accomplishments. Their resumes make mine look amateurish by comparison.

So I am a little nervous going into this thing, even though I am only going overnight. Most of them headed out right after work Friday night, but I just didn't feel like I wanted to be away from the comforts of home for that long. And, today's agenda called for a long run--most of them were talking 18 miles! Hmm, let's see. I think I'll just stay by the fire!

As it is, I'm not totally escaping some sort of group workout, much as I had hoped I would. I mentioned to the woman I am riding with that I wanted to do my long run before we went up there (and by myself thank you!). Her response? "Oh that's great! I wanted to get in a two hour bike ride before we went anyway, so I'll pick you up at 7:30." Are we talking a.m.? It gets worse. "Then we can run together Sunday. I was thinking about 6 miles at a comfy pace." Holy crap! Six miles at a comfy pace? What would that be??

See what I mean?? Needless to say, I canned the long run idea for today (since I didn't want to get up at 4 am to do it) and opted for my new Sprint 8 routine last night. I have to say, it felt good, it felt challenging, and it was short! I did weights and my sprint run after, using the Sprint 8 method, and it works great for that routine. I guess time will tell how well it goes. I liked it, that's for sure.

It was suggested we would swim today. At least I think I can hold my own with most of them there!

If we don't get trapped in a blizzard that's coming, I'll be home Sunday sometime, probably dragging in like a lost cat.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I was reading an article Don passed on to me from Outside Magazine entitled Sprint 8. Here's the gist of it:

SPRINT 8 IS A 20-MINUTE WORKOUT you can do with any aerobic activity: swimming, running, rowing, cycling—you name it. After a three-minute warm-up, start a series of eight 30-second intervals. Prep your muscles for the pace with the first three, then push yourself as hard as possible through the rest. "If you can keep charging past 30 seconds, you aren't trying hard enough," says Sprint 8 creator Phil Campbell.

Between each sprint, slow to an easy pace for 90 seconds, to fully recover for the next one. Finish with a couple minutes of easy work.

For the best results, do a series every other day so your body has time off. If you don't currently have an exercise routine, Campbell suggests you start with at least three weeks of moderate sprints to strengthen your joints' connective tissue and to prep the muscles for full-bore exertion.

After doing more research on this type of workout, I am finding it is not new and there is a lot of info out there about it, although most of it focuses on a 4 minute workout that requires the use of a ($15,000) fitness machine. Apparently, it is the rage in a lot of big city clubs.

But the main article, entitled Power Surge, and which can be found here, discusses high intensity training and the results that can be achieved. Among the benefits is, of course, better fitness level and higher metabolism rate, which leads to fat burning and weight loss. Sounds good so far!

There is also a book by Phil Campbell, entitled Ready, Set, GO! Synergy Fitness 2nd Edition New 2007 5th Printing, and excerpts I have read are very fascinating. The concept seems worth investigating further. Naturally, the testimonials all indicate either the inability to progress after a certain age until they found this new program, or people new to fitness who love the fact that the whole routine only takes 20 minutes. I like both ideas actually.

Now, I know what you're thinking, and I'm skeptical to a point too, but for some reason, the whole thing is nagging at my memory; I know I read something about this at least 5 years ago and probably considered looking into it then, but then didn't for one reason or another. So here it is again. Coincidence? Not sure.

The 4 minute workout articles I came across also described 40 second sprints with 20 second rest intervals, 40/20s as my old coach used to call them. So there, is that where I got this idea? And I loved doing those. We would do a warmup of whatever amount of time we wanted and then when it was time for the track session to start, if we didn't start with the 40/20s, we ended the session doing them. This is a more advanced form of the same high intensity workout described in the Sprint 8 article.

I for one am in the market for any workout that will help me improve my fitness level, yet not take hours to accomplish. I figure a 20 minute workout, with only 8 minutes at high intensity, can't be such a bad idea. Think of it. If I can do this twice a week, and I really think that's all I will be able to manage, it will free up my time to get in the swim and/or weight workouts I skim off my schedule just to get in a run workout. And who knows, I might actually see some improvement this year! (That's my secret goal, to better my times from last year.)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Jut a warning: If you don't watch the show, this may not interest you.
To all you Grey's Anatomy devotees, after waiting two weeks to see if Meredith, one of the main characters of the show, dies from drowning, will we get an answer tonight?
As you may or may not recall, there was a huge ferry crash in Puget Sound, and most of the interns from Seattle Grace were sent to the scene of that accident, along with rescue personnel from all over the area. Fast forward to the end of part 1 two weeks ago, and we see Meredith doing what she is good at: saving a life. After saving a guy from bleeding to death and giving him her coat to wear because he is cold, the ingrate flails out at her, and she pitches into the water.
Not trying to be cynical, but logic comes to mind here. Unless she had hit her head going over the side of the dock and into the water (which I don't recall seeing), survival instinct would have kicked in and she would have resurfaced moments later, if nothing more, gasping for breath. Even cold water, which appears to be the case, should not have prevented her from resurfacing in some timely fashion. Even fully dressed, as she was, she should have been able to come to the surface long enough to make a sound, a splash, or reach out for some sort of lifeline, whether there was anything there or not. I know, I'm probably spoiling the drama here, but those are just my thoughts, thoughts that I formed after two nights of waiting for someone to find her.
And what's with the kid? I was thinking she might be in shock, but she didn't appear panicked, or maybe autistic, since she seemed detached and unemotional to what was going on around her, yet clinging to someone for help (Meredith). But my feelings took a different turn, and I just considered her a brat. After Meredith takes her under her wing because she was separated from her mother, and is scared and lost, this is the thanks she gets when she needs help? (Remember, she did nothing, just walked away.)
Fast forward again to the end of part 2 and there is Meredith, lifeless and blue. I know I am not alone in thinking they can't kill off the main character of the show. I also know February is ratings month, so almost every show out there puts new episodes on in February. That's one way to get people to watch every week and stretches the season out that will include reruns for the next 8 weeks, most likely. I do think two things, however: (1) that being in cold water likely stopped her heart long enough so she doesn't have (lasting) brain damage (remember they said her temperature was in the 80s) and (2) that this may not get resolved yet tonight. So, the drama continues.
On a workout note, today I finally lapped the woman swimmer at the pool that has more or less been my nemesis for the past few months. When I swam againt her last season, I had no trouble lapping her. Then, after the accident, I slowly lost fitness and strength, to the point where only a month ago I was struggling in her wake. Today was a sort of victory, though, because I caught her before doing a full quarter mile and stayed ahead of her until the end of my workout. I think she knows there is some sort of friendly competition going on there, even though we have never mentioned it. I can just sense it. Today, I was pretty sure. After lapping her, she broke into a breast stroke for a couple of laps and then went back to freestyle, like she was trying to recover. She has a pretty good glide, so even with the breast stroke, she stayed fairly close to me. But I prevailed and finished ahead on each lap. It felt like a true workout! And in the process, took 17 seconds off my 3/4 mile time (today: 30:18). That's two times in a row that my time has dropped, so I think this means progress, not just a fluke!
I always worry I am not counting laps correctly, but I switched to counting 5 at a time and then starting over to be sure I don't get messed up. Usually, my brain manages to be able to count to five easily enough, but get past 20 and I start forgetting! Maybe if I didn't count every stroke too, I might be able to do both. :)
I've decided against doing drills, etc. since I just don't have enough time on a weekly basis to do weights, pilates, swim drills, swim, spin, run, stretching, etc.! Its a vicious cycle otherwise. I figure my swimming will improve as my fitness improves, and hopefully, by the time tri season gets here, I will be close to my swim fitness of last season.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


That's what I heard this morning in the gym locker room. I was the only one there! Not that the other women bother me (much), but someone always has to have on the boring morning news shows, and listening to that droning in the background (since I can't hear it clearly over the sounds of the blowdryers or showers) sometimes gets annoying. To make matters worse, if I do decide I want to listen to something, a certain woman changes it to whatever she wants to watch, even if she sees you turn the TV on to a certain station. Anyway, I'm not getting into that rant.

So it was peaceful and quiet while I got ready for work. And I noticed, too, without the distraction of the TV that I get ready quicker. Background music would be nice though!

I finally was able to go outside and run this morning, the first time in two weeks other than the subzero 5k I did last week. It was about 19 degrees, but after the last two weeks, it felt like a heat wave. It actually got up to 47 degrees yesterday! I actually saw one idiot with his convertible top down. It was warm, but not that warm!

We had a freezing fog advisory, meaning that as the fog rolled in, ice formed on whatever it touched. Once again, got to love those heated sidewalks downtown! And while it felt okay to get out and run finally, it still isn't light until about 7:30 am, so my route is restricted by darkness. Oh sure, if I want to run in the trashier part of town, I can do that--at my own risk. Not that the crazies are out that early, its just that I don't think anyone in that part of town owns a shovel, since none of the sidewalks are cleared. Running on the frozen footprints is like trail running: you have to watch every step you take and then walk/run as best you can. Because of the fog, I didn't want to risk running in the street. And I am getting antsy about wanting to run longer in the morning, so it will be very appreciated when daylight savings time starts on March 11.

So I did an out-and-back loop around downtown and back to the gym and it was fully light by the time I got back. Yes, the days are getting longer!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


(Pictured: Paczkis)

In an effort to live up to its name, our office is having their annual Fat Tuesday grazing party. While people in this office never need any excuse to eat all day long, their eating will cost them, and is encouraged to raise money for Holiday Aid, the charity program we raise money for throughout the year and then donate at the end of the year to local charities or families in need. So eat up people!

In an effort to avoid the Fat Tuesday blues, I did my part by going to the gym again this morning before work. :)

On a weather note: it was 46 degrees here yesterday! What is going on!! Whatever it is, I'll take it.

Monday, February 19, 2007

BORGESS INDOOR TRIATHLON, Sun., February 19, 2007

Jan and me again. Here we are before the swim. My camera batteries crapped out so this is it for pictures.

From the little you can see, it is a very nice facility, about 50 miles from GR, down through the snow belt to get there! (Jeez, will it ever quit?? Another storm the day before.) Anyway, this event is way low key compared to our last indoor tri.

Our start time was 10:30, but we got there more than an hour ahead, giving us a little time to get organized and watch some of the other participants. When I say low key, I mean just that.

For example, each event is 20 minutes long, with a 5 minute transition between each. If you don't make the 5 minute cutoff, they just wait until you're ready! Second, no awards were given out--they will mail you something if you get something. So you do your event and leave. Not so bad really, except waiting to see how we did.

This time I did something different in what I wore--I wore a new swim suit and a bike jersey and bike shorts for the rest. Last time, I had a very worn out suit, which bagged horribly (and probably slowed me down, right?:)), I tried to put a running top on over my dripping suit, and wasted a lot of time getting it situated correctly, and then it looked awful with the bagging suit. This time, I wanted to be more streamlined.

Since we had so much time before the event, we took the time to loosen up and stretch, get our things organized, and then watched a few of the swim heats. It was pretty comical, really, and it gave us hope that we might actually do okay. In the heat before ours, not one of the women could really swim. Now, I'm not knocking their effort, it was just amusing to watch. Two did the back float for the whole 20 minutes, with one wearing a strapless suit, two did the Tarzan swim (heads and shoulders out of the water--that must have hurt for 20 minutes!), and one did a side stroke or walked/dog paddled. But hey, they got through it. Where there's a will, there's a way.

My goals for the day were pretty simple: for the swim, get at least 1/2 mile; for the bike, get at least 5.50 miles; for the run, get at least 2 miles. I'm happy to report I made all my goals.

Swim: It was a very nice pool, and this time the water was comfortable, not too warm. I knew I had improved my swim time over the past 10 days, so I was fairly confident I would make my goal. I chose the lane with the clock, however, to be sure. There were five of us in our heat, even though we started with four. I have no idea where the 5th person came from or when, I just remember seeing another man swimming a few lanes over about half-way through. It was Jan, me, a younger guy next to me, and a very large woman next to Jan. The guy keeping score for me noticed my swim cap (or maybe he noticed my bike jersey I had on earlier) and asked if I had done the Three Rivers Triathlon (my last one last summer), and I said I had. "If you did that, you can do this." Yeah, I'm pretty sure I can swim 20 minutes, I thought. But I thanked him for the encouragement. The swim went smoothly, my stroke count was even on each length, so I was sure I would make the distance. On my last length, I still had 40 seconds left, but wondered whether they would count anything after the lap, so I almost stopped at the end of the lane, but then decided to keep going. I'm glad I did, since they did count the difference. So I still got another 1/2 length, for a total of 36 1/2. Jan did 27 1/2.

Bike: We were able to go to the locker room, change, and go to the bathroom without worry of them starting the bike before we were ready. I didn't even worry about the time, but nonetheless, I did hustle. I didn't want to tempt fate. The bike was on Cybex stationary bikes. After a few adjustments and a quick review of the operating instructions, we started. One instruction was: stop at 20 minutes. Apparently, you were your own timer. Laid back. It took me a few minutes again to figure out the distance mode, and once I did, I was able to break down the segments: every 5 minutes I needed to do at least 1.35 to get to 5:50. The only sure way to do this was increase resistance and pedal your guts out. The guy next to me, who was very fast in the pool but a major thrasher, was just as bad on the bike, grunting, moaning, standing, etc. Then his bike shut off for some odd reason and he was really freaked out. I just tuned him out as best I could. I was getting close to my goal in the last couple of minutes so decided to crank up the resistance more and pedal as hard as I could. The end result: 5:67. An okay distance. Jan did 6.34.

Run: The run was right next to the bike, on treadmills, so we didn't have to go through the rat maze of steps we had to do at the Y last time. It was a leisurely transition. I talked with the very heavy woman in our heat (who incidentally did 29 laps on the swim and 4.47 on the bike), who was saying she was entered in another Y indoor tri event that was 30 minutes for each segment! She said she was afraid to enter any of the outdoor tris because of the "cut off." I assured her there were a few sprint triathlons with no cutoffs and to pursue those if she really was interested. I also pointed out that if she could swim a full 30 minutes, she shouldn't worry. She did okay on the swim and said she was a biker, so I figured she would be okay. I also pointed out to her that I have been last in more triathlons than I care to admit, and they haven't closed the course on me yet and I still keep coming back for more abuse! :) So I think I convinced her to give it a shot.

Again, laid back instructions for the run: hit the quick start to get going and the stop button at 20 minutes. So we were off, with Jan next to me, the other woman on the other side, and the young guy a couple of treadmills down. I have no idea what happened to the 5th person, or whether there ever was a 5th person. I never saw him again. Jan was cranking up the speed to 7:30s, the other woman was walking, the young guy sounded like he was roping cattle, with his ye has! and whoas throughout. It was all I could do to keep from laughing or saying something out loud like get along little doggie! I started out at a modest 10:20 pace which felt easy enough yet challenging. After a few minutes, I upped the speed so I was doing 10:10, then on to 10:00, 9:49, 9:20, and finally ended at 9:13! I was really okay until maybe the last 2 minutes, and I steadied myself from time to time, but didn't hang on for more than a second or two, so I knew I could keep the pace at least for a while. Jan, on the other hand, started backing down. She said later she just couldn't hold the 7:30 pace (no wonder!), but did hold it at about 8:10. I felt like it was a hard run. I felt like I was pounding. It seemed harder than running on a track like last time, yet easier too. Hard to explain. I felt like I was being conservative in my approach to increasing my speed, and while I don't want to second guess myself, I do know I hold back. I just can't let myself go all out and see what happens. I figured I didn't need to use it all up that day on that event, yet I felt like I had a very good workout. So I ended up with 2:03, and Jan had 2:23.

And its amazing how good a good workout makes you feel! After we spent about 15 minutes cooling down, stretching, and recovering, we showered and I felt really good. I still feel really good today, much better than last week. So now we just wait for results, and hopefully those will be in the next few days.

I started getting really excited about the upcoming triathlon season and can't wait for it to start!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Chinese New Year . 2007 is the Year of the Pig (boar)
So, to all those of you running "the Pig" this year, you picked a good year. To all of you born in the year of the Pig, happy birthday!
You are a Boar:
Honest, peace-loving and make good friends. Will try not to argue and rarely lose their temper. Love the good things in life and are very willing to share with others. Enjoy gossip and fall in love easily. Can be untidy people at home.

Friday, February 16, 2007


In terms of numbers, they are down for the week. I have been really tired this week. I think it goes back to last week Thursday when I did the one hour spin class, and I swear we did 250+ jumps. All but two songs? I think yeah.

Saturday it was the 5k in the subzero weather, rushing home to get to the bike shop, spending two hours there, then another hour driving to the lakeshore beaches, and at least a one mile hike on the frozen water, another drive home, a movie with Don, and not sleeping good that night.

Then Sunday, I did my longest swim in probably 6 weeks, tried to catch up on the household chores and shopping, and the rest of the day and into the evening spent with the grandkids, cooking dinner, playing games, and again getting to bed late.

Monday, I made the mistake of switching around my spinning class from morning to night. This was with a new instructor, and while I liked her style enough, the class itself wasn't what I was wanting to do that day--high cadence, up to 110%--for the whole class. If my legs weren't dead from the weekend stuff, they were by Tuesday morning. I really couldn't believe how dead they felt. Not sore or stiff, just dead. No life. And my shoulder was hurting, enough to be on my mind continually. So Tuesday morning I switched from my usual weights and running to a swim.

I did manage another 3/4 mile swim on Tuesday, which really felt good, and pilates that evening, and finally my shoulder that had been hurting since the week before finally calmed down. The pilates seems to help some muscle groups I can't seem to get to any other way. Swimming does not bother the shoulder. It is definitely from something else, and this time I wasn't sure what. It just started hurting driving home Wednesday night, and I hadn't done any weights since before that. I was really glad it calmed down though. As for the pilates, I am definitely seeing a huge benefit there. The abs are getting stronger, more tones, and flatter! Can't complain about that.

Then we get to Wednesday, and I was just flat out too tired to go to the gym as early as it would have required in order for me to take my dad to his chemo treatment. I did about 10 minutes of weights at home and called it good, my first real day off since late in December.

Thursday, I did manage to get in 1/2 mile swimming, finally breaking the time barrier I have been struggling with for a while now, so that made me happy, but again, I had to spend the next 2+ hours driving my dad around before actually settling in at work.

And then what's up with work being so busy? I mean, what are they thinking?? :) So not only did I have to work late last night, but I will be working most of Saturday too. :( And last night was another night babysitting the grandkids until almost 11 pm. So yeah, today I'm tired!

Today, weights at home, some pilates, and I'm calling it good for the day. Sunday I have another indoor triathlon scheduled, and after being so tired this week I figured I would really rest for a couple of days. But I don't feel dragged out any more, so that's encouraging. Just mind tired, if that makes sense.

So looking back, I think a lot of my problem started with the shoulder pain way last Wednesday and then the spinning. Now that that seems to have eased, I do feel better. Its just not been a good week otherwise. I don't want this to become a pattern so after this indoor tri I will be buckling down to some harder work again.

One question for any healthcare workers, etc. I have a scar approximately 5 inches long from my chest tube last Sept. When it hurts, which is about 99% of the time, that's when my shoulder seems to have the worst flareups. It may mean nothing, but I have noticed some connection. I have done everything recommended for scars and it still hurts. Like the Harry Potter scar. Its annoying, irritating, distracting, whatever you want to call it. Its in my armpit area, near the top of the ribs, so every sports bra, regular bra, even sweating causes irritation and soreness. I have used every topical ointment or cream on the market to clear this up and yet it continues to bug the heck out of me. Its healed but it looks red and angry all the time. Even with this, its improved about 100% from the beginning. Any ideas, suggestions, recommendations to get this thing to stop hurting before I go crazy??

Thursday, February 15, 2007

All the ground is snow
All the ground is snow
And the skies are gray
And the skies are gray
I’ve been on a run
I’ve been on a run
On a winter’s day
On a winter’s day
I’d be feelin’ warm
I’d be feelin’ warm
If I was in AZ
If I was in AZ
Arizona dreamin’
Arizona dreamin’
On such a winter’s day.
(Just my own rendition of another song you might know or remember, and hopefully I don't get in trouble for plagiarism here. )
As I was driving my dad to another chemo appointment yesterday and today, I couldn't help but think that a year ago today, Don and I were on our way to Phoenix so he could run the Lost Dutchman marathon and I could visit relatives, both which were in Apache Junction. While it wasn't "hot" while we were there, it definitely beat the weather we were having here. The best part was the nearly every day blue skies, something we don't see often here, even in good weather. And it definitely would be a treat to be able to experience it again this year.
One more treatment, on March 7, and hopefully that will be it! I figured it would happen sooner than it did, but I have to say I am getting really tired of this whole routine. Thankfully, our weather on all the other treatment days was as decent as you could expect for this time of year, but yesterday I think finally put me over the edge. We missed a lot of the storm, but with this cold even a little snow cover turns to ice under heavy traffic. So it was another white-knuckle drive day.
I really am hoping I can get away, even if only a short visit. I am ready!


If you really want to do something, you'll find a way; if you don't, you'll find an excuse.

I don't know the author, but I thought this was good and so true. It makes me realize I have been following this since my accident for sure. It also helps me get through a hard week, like this, realizing I really can do anything I put my mind to because I want to.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I know I am going to need all the help I can get this season. I want to not only have someone to ride with on a regular basis but also maybe actually get better this year. In terms of the events I am training for, I figure I should improve at any event I do this year, but I can't help but feel a little unsure of myself from time to time.

So I have been looking into tri clubs in my area. One can be found at and the other is at (if you can access these links). Two different groups and focuses. Both have membership fees and both have benefits of joining. But which one??

Whenever I have attempted to join in with a training group before, the results have been less than desirable. For example, you meet at 6 am for a training ride, only to get dropped in the first 15 minutes of the ride. Not only do you bust your butt to get there on time, to be "ride ready" as they say, but the ride is not necessarily on a course known by you, so when you get dropped, you are lost, and there isn't much point in continuing on. Or you lose your incentive to go as far as you planned. Or you start out on a training run, only to have most of the people run away from you almost immediately, leaving you to plod along by yourself. Another example: several people are going to meet for an "after-work" swim. Only their after work time is not 5:30 or 6 pm, but 4:30 or 5 pm. By the time you get to the other side of town, they are already gone or are pretty much done. Once again, you wonder why you bothered. And the worst example was when I went to the "tri class" at the Y a couple of years ago. The promise was we would have our own lanes to swim in or share with another participant, our own spin class for the bike portion, and then we would all run "together." Let me tell you, it didn't happen that way. Not only were there NO lanes available for the participant swimmers, the spin class filled up before a couple of people got to their bike, and once we started running, the majority of the people were done and gone home before the slower ones even finished. One time of that was enough for me.

So naturally, I am hesitant to pay money for this type of abuse. I know I am slow, but I am not really a turtle. I'm slowest on transitions, which puts me behind everyone regardless of ability. I need more practice and training. But do they wait like they say they will? No. Never. And its not necessarily that I want or expect them to wait. And its not that the triathletes I mention aren't nice people, they are just over and above me in their fitness and training, and while they constantly are recruiting new people to the group, the ones who succeed with them are of the same caliber.

That is why I got to the point where I trained alone most of the time. That is why more than likely I got hit by a car. That is something I never want to go through again. That is why I don't think I really progressed to where I could have last season.

But this leaves me torn as to which group to hook up with. The one I'm leaning more toward has the more expensive joining fee ($175) because I feel I would have access to more than just training buddies. They also provide access to people with experience in injury prevention, and maybe in my case injury advice.

What do you all think? What would you do for yourself? What expectations would you have of working out with a group?

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Saturday, after the race, Don and I went to look at bikes. I did not look at or find my dream bike, but I did at least make an appointment for a bike fit. The shop that does the fit does not carry the bikes I want, so I may end up with something else, but at least this is a start.

After that, we headed to the lakeshore to see the eagles that have been flocking by the dozens. We didn't see any, but we did see this.

This is one of our favorite beaches we go to every summer. Oh, you thought we were on the moon?

Its one of the most incredible sights you could ever expect to see. I am actually standing on water. Frozen, snowed over water. The high peaks are likely waves that have frozen. The footing is like walking on rocks and is very slippery besides. My feet were killing me by the time we got back to the car. Don took a bad fall, so hopefully he is okay. We walked until we reached a sharp drop off, which looked like a big ravine, but it was all frozen water. Weird.
As far as you could see, it was a frozen no-man's land. There was no water for at least a mile, if not more. Which is why we did not see any eagles. They come "south" to feed in the open waters, and since there wasn't any--and we went to three beaches, north to south--they may have moved on again.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

HEART & SOLE 5K, Feb. 10, 2007

Temperature: 13
Windchill: -4
Time: 35:19
Place in AG: 2/5

I was surprised that only about 250 people showed up to run this race. Could it be the -4 windchills? And I was glad this race was close by home, only about 10 minutes from my house, where probably 90% of the races in Grand Rapids are held. And I was glad Don went and picked up our packets Friday, meaning we could basically get to the race 15 min. before. Actually, we got there about a half hour ahead, but neither of us wanted to stand around outside, so we went in the high school. I noticed immediately something I have NEVER seen at a race: no lines in the women's bathroom! But then, when you see my opening sentence, it only made sense.

I had finally found my Yaktrax the night before and decided to put them on, since we were still having some light snow flurries that had greased up the streets some. In normal temperatures for this time of year, it would have just been wet. But with the cold, the little bit of snow cover only made it feel like grease. They worked perfectly, and I had quite a few people asking about them. I did see one other woman with them too. You absolutely can't feel a thing with them on other than more sure-footed. In fact, I started wondering if they were really working or whether I really needed them, since I didn't slip a bit.

The race started along one of the few in-city lakes we have, one where our local triathlon is held in September. Up until we went down to the start, the cold was tolerable. After all, I had on two pair of tights, a turtle neck, another long sleeved t-shirt over that, and my Gortex jacket. Then I had on my face mask (a true lifesaver!), headband, and two pair of gloves. Yep, I was ready for a sprint all right. Don asked me if I was going to wear all that stuff, and I said, I'd be wearing more if I could move with it on! And believe it or not, I saw 5 people with shorts. It was pretty cold waiting at the start, but fortunately they started on time. It was a chip start, but I still like to start my watch.

I think my legs were still feeling the effects of last week's "long" run on the treadmill, since I had felt tired all week, and then foolishly did a one hour spin class on Thursday, so I had no pep at all until probably half-way through the race, and then pep for me is relative.

I know this course like the back of my hand, probably having run it in one race or another over the past 19 years as well as dozens of training runs. They mix up the course once in a while, but this race has had the same course for at least 10 years. It is the only race that has ever been cancelled since I have been running, and that was because we had 60 mph winds. Go figure!

So off we go. I actually pass a few people before I even cross the mat and get some dirty looks, like I am some sort of speed demon or something. No, actually, its cold and I just want to get this thing over with.

Funny thing about the cold, I totally forgot about it once I got going. We start out passing the lake, turn off from there, and head up a long sloping hill, then down and around on the opposite side of the lake, which is all residential. Before I get to the first mile marker, the lead runners are already coming back, since it is an out and back course. I didn't even want to look at my watch. It was ridiculous to even think of someone being done already and here I was only getting started.

When it is colder like this, just like when it is hotter, I think your heart rate goes up, so I was trying to stay within a moderately hard breathing pattern, and was again thankful for the mask. I know it helped me not be gasping. About this time too, around the one mile mark, a woman passed me running and a short ways ahead started walking. Slow as I am, I still didn't want anyone passing me. So I was a little ticked that she came flying past me and then walked, and I couldn't catch her even then. And she looked like she might be in my age group. Back and forth we went. She would run and pass me, and then walk and I would pass her. Just before the turnaround, we had another hill. I actually made up some distance on her here because I continued to run and she walked. But damn, there was no way I was going to catch her unless I cranked it up, and at this point I wasn't willing to risk dying too soon. I was basically lifting my feet and putting them down. No pep.

Just before mile two, another woman in front of me, whom I wasn't catching either, finally stops and walks. Just like that. Okay, thank you, I think I will pass. But damn again, now I have to make sure she doesn't pass me again. That's always a dilemma, you know? Knowing this course is the only thing that totally saves me in these races. I know how far I have to go and when I can possibly start pushing myself, but it certainly wasn't going to be at mile 2. There was still another long steep hill to go up, and another long stretch of road before we even were going to be near the 3 mile mark, which today was pretty much my plan for attempting to pick up the pace.

I hadn't looked at my watch the whole time. I was concentrating on the run/walk woman in front of me, and I didn't want to risk being disappointed by seeing how slow I knew I was going. I knew I was running slower than my last race, I could feel it. I just knew. And then I heard the bells of a nearby church ring. They ring on the hour, I thought. That means it is 9:00. That means I've been out here 30 minutes already. Sigh. I am slower today. I still had more than a half mile to finish the race.

And then I saw Don running toward me. We had signed up as a couples team, so I figured he wondered whether his partner was ever going to finish. I pretty much figured he had run his usual 22 or 23 min. and was probably first in his age group. I was irritated to see him, since it broke my concentration, so I waved him away. He didn't say a word but just turned and ran slightly ahead of me. I was mad, because now I was going to HAVE to run faster than I really wanted to. :) I could hear a couple of people who had been behind me the whole way planning their final sprint strategy too, so I really had to get going. I felt like I wasn't moving. I had nothing. But I pushed ahead and started this stupid loud breathing weird noise. Then I saw the clock and saw it was already at 35 min. and I wasn't happy at all, but what are you going to do? I couldn't pass the run/walk woman, no way, but I also couldn't let the two behind me pass, so I couldn't let up either. They didn't pass me, and the race was over. Yeah!

As expected, Don did take first in his AG with 24:08. We were 11th out of 13 teams. Bleh.

They had a pretty low-key awards ceremony after: if you placed, go get a medal. How exciting. But I was glad to not have to stay around any longer, and wanted to get home. As I was peeling off all my layers after the race, Don said, no wonder you couldn't run any faster with those tights on. They were a hand-me-down pair from him that he said were too tight. They really were quite tight in the knees and calf area, and maybe that's why I felt so stiff running. And maybe why I was slower. Maybe. Or maybe it was just the blasted cold.

Friday, February 09, 2007


A new one, by Sharon, one designed to maybe learn something about our blogger friends other than workouts. So, here goes.

A — Available or Married? Not married, but not available either.
B — Best Friend? That's a hard one, because I have a best friend from school days, Marcia, and a best friend at work and for workouts, Jan, but I can't say I hang out with either specifically or confide in either on any regular basis.
C — Childhood memory: Lots of them. One I mentioned yesterday was ice skating, almost every day in winter, after school, after dinner, and on Saturdays. And I was good. Crack the whip, and I could hang with the boys on that.
D - Drink of choice? Diet Rite Pure Zero. I would drink way too many of those a day, if left unchecked.
E. — Essential Item? My building access card--to the parking lot, my office, and my gym. Can't leave home without it.
F — Favorite Color? Blue.
G — Gummi Bears or Worms? bears if I ate them at all.
H — Hometown? Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I— Indulgence? Chocolate, and I don't indulge very often anymore.
J — January or February? January--finally the Christmas rush is over.
K — Kids and Names? Corey (30), Renee (26), Aaron (23, going on 16), Justin (19).
L — Last Lipid profile results? Can't remember. Way overdue for that.
M — Marriage Date? N/A
N — Number of Siblings? 5--I am the oldest. 3 sisters, 2 brothers.
O — Oranges or Apples? Oranges, but I do love the Honey Crisp Apples.
P — Phobias/Fears? heights, just like Sharon.
Q — Favorite Quote? "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."- Robert Frost
R — Reason to Smile? Every day.
S — Season? Autumn
T — Tag 3 People! I’m going to tag Waddling because I think she really works hard at her running goal; Texas Skatemom because I just started reading her blog, and have been impressed by her stick-toitiveness on her running; and Ellie because she always has so much to say and is working on qualifying for Boston, another running goal!
U — Unknown Fact About Me: My son-in-law killed himself almost 3 years ago. I suffered from 2 years of depression after this. There, that's out there finally. Its something that is on my mind every day. Some days its a brief thought, other days are regretful thoughts. But I have learned to get on with my life.
V — Vice? I drink too much coffee. Mostly decaf though!
W — Worst Habit? I procrastinate on taking care of business matters or paying bills because I sometimes hope they disappear!
X — X-terra or regular tri? regular tri - I'm too scared on the downhills!
Y - Favorite food? Broccoli. I eat it almost every day.
Z - Zodiac sign? Virgo, just like Sharon.

These are what I will be wearing tomorrow when I do the 5k I probably foolishly signed up for. Here is the info on Yaktrax, for those of you living where you would need these (sorry, can't get a picture to upload):
Yaktrax are the newest and most user friendly ice traction device for your shoes on the market today. The unique and patented design will give you the same solid, predictable grip you are accustomed to feeling on dry surfaces. Designed for the mass market, Yaktrax are made for everyone from kids to the elderly. Runners, walkers, workers or anyone who faces the elements of winter will stay safer this winter with a pair of Yaktrax. Yaktrax are lightweight, compact and fit over nearly all types of shoes. When you walk or run with a pair of Yaktrax, the scientifically engineered coil design will give you 360 degrees of traction. Hundreds of biting edges come in contact with the ice and packed snow beneath your feet. You will move about naturally. There is nothing new to learn, just walk as you normally would and experience stability on ice and snow like you have never felt before.

I totally forgot I had these things, and I know I will feel much more confident if it is even slightly slippery. They stretch to fit over your shoes. They are really ideal for the type of snowpack we've had recently.

As for this 5k, Don wanted us to do this as a couples race, since it technically is a Valentines race. They combine your ages and times for placement--even that won't help! I told him not to get his expectations up for any kind of speed time for me. I'm not even sure if I can beat my last 5k, which was 4 weeks ago, mainly due to the weather changes. Last time, it was cold but we had dry roads. Even if we don't get any more snow overnight, it is not likely the roads will be without some slush, which really is like running through sand. I don't even expect these things to work too good on that, but should provide some stability I wouldn't have otherwise.

As for today, it was just a 15 min. swim. I forgot my watch, so I had to rely on the wall clock, and fortunately it is big enough for me to even see. Don had warned me yesterday not to do any workout today, so I would have a "better run" Saturday, but I felt compelled so as to stick with my Jan. and Feb. plan of doing something every day--even if only 10-15 min. of swimming. So I won't tell him. :) Like I said, I'm pretty sure no amount of "rest" is going to make me run faster tomorrow.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Yesterday was my grandson's birthday and today is my boss's. So there has been cake, cake, and more cake. Cupcakes today, to be exact. So he puts them on my desk to look at all day. All day, people walk by and say, "Evil, evil cupcakes" and escape without eating one.

I might not have succumbed had it not been for the hour plus spin workout at lunch today. I lost track after we did probably 250 jumps. I haven't done a full hour spin class in I don't know how long. I wasn't particularly worn out; I went by my heart rate most of the time and never went over the 80% range, but still, after 250 jumps (this woman instructor is a jumping fool), I'd pretty much had enough. I had forgotten to bring a sports bra today too, and she knew it, and had promised me we "wouldn't be jumping around much." I would hate to see what "much" would have been like, compared with what we did then!

All in all, a good workout. I kept the tension easy for most of it too because Saturday I'M RUNNING ANOTHER 5K! It had better warm up some before then.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


The gym I belong to now is made up mainly of professionals or executives from around the city and West Michigan. For years, membership was restricted to only these types of individuals, or people with a lot of money. For years, I have wanted to join this club, not for the prestige but for the convenience. Remember, it is in the same building where I work. So naturally, I jumped at the chance when recently they opened membership up to paraprofessionals and others(obviously to boost sagging membership), or as I like to categorize myself, a regular person.

I knew immediately on my first day that I was somewhat out of the other women's league, particularly when it came to dress. In no way do I dress tackily (I don't think) or sloppily, and I strive to not look like I dress cheaply.

Today, as on many other days, the talk in the locker room started going in a direction I tend to not fit in with: where they shop. There was much animated discussion about the shops they love and frequent in Chicago, which I have never set foot in, and even the shops in town, that I don't even give a glance.

Having four kids and living on a shoestring budget for so many years, however, has trained me to sniff out the best bargains possible for the money I have to spend. I prefer mainly to wear sweaters, pants, blouses, and jackets that I can mix and match with just about everything I own. Most of my jewelry was bought at the huge discount sales or are pieces my sister has made me, some of which I have received numerous compliments on and are some of my favorite accessories. With my office going so casual over the last 5 years, even if I could afford the expensive power suits, I wouldn't be interested in wearing them.

So listening to their idle chatter about Coach purses, Prada shoes, and Liz outfits, I realized I have found some of these same items in the second hand stores, and am quite proud of myself when I can put an outfit together for $50 or less. But what I am the most proud of is my ability to go to the discount stores and find outfits that nonoe of these ladies would consider at prices even I can afford. And I have to say, a couple of pair of pants I wear all the time I bought at Wal-Mart and they are the most comfortable things I own. And they look far more expensive than what I paid. And they don't look any different than some of the things they wear. And they are the right length! I have to wear petite sizes for length usually, and while you can easily find those sizes in the better stores, the prices make my eyes pop. Even when I get gift cards to some of these places, I have a hard time "spending" the money because I feel the prices are totally unreasonable.

While my kids were growing up, they knew we couldn't afford to shop anywhere that didn't have shopping carts, and if it wasn't on sale or I didn't have a coupon, it wasn't on the menu. So when one of my kids calls to say, "Mom, guess what? I bought ______ and found it at ________ and saved so much money."' Or "Mom, you'd be proud of me. I saved $________ by using coupons," you know you've done your job! :)

On a weather note, it was a balmy 3 degrees today! Break out those shorts!

On a workout note, 1/2 mile swim.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


A week or so ago, Sharon was more or less fretting over her daughter. Today, its my turn. Actually, I don't think I ever not fret over one of my kids at any given time, but one in particular takes up the most worry time.

I'm talking about my 23 year old son, who barely made it through high school, had absolutely no interest in college, and still does not have a full-time job. He has more excuses than words in the dictionary why he can't get a job. This week, its because of the cold. After all, why would he want to go out in this stuff to look for a job? Why indeed? I guess only if he wanted to eat or have his own place to live or his own car. Just the simple things in life.

A couple of years ago, when I could see he wasn't going to motivate himself, and I couldn't seem to do it either, to look for a job, an unbelievable opportunity came up for him to have a job and a place to live if he moved to Montana. He hesitated for months, until finally I told him I'd drive him out there myself if he would just get out of his dad's house and have a life. The only stipulation was he was not coming back unless he paid his own way. He agreed, we packed him up, and along with his dog, my sister and I drove him out west.

That venture lasted almost a year, and then he messed up, once again, and ended up with no job and no place to live. Oh, and no money of course too. This time, his dad bailed him out by driving out and picking him up and bringing him back to GR. He knew I wasn't going to do it.

Since he's been back in late August, he still has not managed to find--or even look for--a full-time job. He does temp work occasionally, like, when the spirit moves him apparently. He's not living with me, and I have chosen to not worry about it most of the time.

When his dad and I went through our divorce several years ago, Aaron was still young enough to be in school. I chose to move away from the rural area where we lived because that town was too small for the both of us. I moved back to Grand Rapids for financial and convenience reasons. He chose to stay with his dad so he could continue in the same school district. While I was not happy with this outcome, these things happen a lot of the times when boys are older and there is a divorce. I was reassured by many that this would work out. From my relationship and experience with his dad, I should have known better.

Things went down hill quickly for him, and while I realize he made bad choices and had poor judgment, I always felt a lot of guilt over the situation. He certainly did not have a good male role model, after all. He dropped out of high school--rather, he skipped so often there was no way he would graduate on time. With my nagging and encouragement, he finally did go back and get his GED a couple of years later. But he still continued living in his dad's shadow. I realized in part that with the genes he inherited, he wasn't going to do anything on his own. Not that he isn't willing to work. Its just that he lives in a dreamworld, like his dad, of what he is going to do with his life, which up until now has been nothing. If someone were to give him a million dollars, a place to live, a free car, and a job, he would maybe manage to survive in this world.

So, what does a mother do with a situation like this? How much more can I or should I do? I have sought help and answers from many sources, but so far nothing has clicked. Why? Because I know he has to want to do something for himself. I consider it a case of arrested development. I have tried to get him to seek counseling, but after a couple of visits, "I'm not going back there. What for?" And, I can't make him go, much as I would like to.

For the most part, my other kids have turned out okay. So what's the answer here? I wish I knew. Today was another example of his dependence on everyone else to get him through life. He called me last night to see if I could give him a ride to one of his jobs, since he didn't have another ride. I suggested many alternatives, but of course those met with opposition. I don't mind helping him out, but I don't want to continue being an enabler. Again, what do you do when the choice is for him to work or not work? Believe me, I have spent many a sleepless night worrying about this kid. I try not to blame myself for everything--he does have choices to make, I know. But I can't help feel that somewhere along the line I failed him, and wish I could help him figure out how to get his life on track.

The problem today was with the traffic and roads the way they are, and likely will continue to be for a few more days, its slow going, and no matter how much time you think you'll need, it still takes longer. So of course, I am ranting some and did at him too and gave him my usual lecture about needing to get a job, get his car running, and get on with his life and stop expecting everyone to help him out all the time. Again, excuses, excuses, excuses.

So I am angry about the situation, and realize I am partly to blame, and angry at him as well, and angry I had to drive an extra hour in white knuckle driving conditions to get him to where he needed to go. And I'm not sure he will ever appreciate any of this. I guess what gets me the most is while he complains about never having any money or being able to go anywhere, he isn't motivated enough to get out the door. Any ideas or answers out there?? Should I just let him worry about himself and write him off? Eventually, I know I will have to do that. I keep reminding him of my recent accident and what if--what if something happened to either me or his dad? (Not that I support him financially, but obviously he has that safety net of someone being there just in case.)

On a weather note: -12 actual. I wonder how low the temperature will get before hell freezes over??

On a workout note: weights, 15 pushups, and 2 mile run. And of course I had to go to the gym an extra hour early because of all this too!

Monday, February 05, 2007


Temp: -6
Windchill: -20
Snow depth: Who knows any more!
Workout today: Brick - 45 min. spin; 15 min. run

And I saw it! An actual rainbow in the southeast sky. Is it the calm after the storm?

After three full days of snow, snow, and more snow, and then the Polar Express coming to town, we are starting to dig out and trying to get back to normal, as much as something like this allows. All schools are closed; most college campuses are also closed. Even some businesses are closed. I have to say, though, that the city/county plows have done a fairly good job keeping the roads clear. I counted at least 5 times that they went down my street last night.

The extreme cold is a big factor though. I noticed right away in my car this morning that it was still cold after letting my car run 10 minutes. Cold I could feel through my coat and a fleece. Then I looked at the temperature guage and did a double take. Negative 6! I don't think I have seen it that cold on my temperature guage since I got this car. Windchill yes. Actual, no. When it is this cold, road salt does no good, and in fact only makes it worse. You get an initial melting, but then an instant refreezing, and then get a layer of ice on the already snow-packed roads. I don't think I have seen any bare pavement in days.

Yesterday, even while they warned people to stay in and off the roads, I think there was more traffic than Saturday. It was so cold that every breath you took in cut like a knife in your lungs. After going to the gym for my swim, I decided to venture to the grocery store, only to find it a madhouse, both from the storm aftermath and the Superbowl frenzy. People were everywhere! The road conditions themselves were pretty good, but the drivers were not. As far as I'm concerned, if you can't manage to drive your car at least 10 miles an hour, you need to stay home! I can't count the number of cars I road behind that had on their four-way flashers, causing me to ride my brake, because they were going so slow I could have walked faster. There really was NO need for that. Otherwise, just stay home. And then you have the opposite extreme, the idiots who have this need for speed, no matter the weather or conditions, crazily passing people all over the place, making their own lanes, and causing more problems doing that.

Today's spin workout was the same instructor from Friday, the one who follows his own workout despite the music he plays. Since I remembered the music lineup from Friday, I decided to do somewhat of my own workout. I am feeling more and more comfortable spinning, even while increasing the intensity. And I am beginning to do a heart rate check after most songs, and will get a chart made so I know where I am--when I need to increase intensity or when I need to back off. Mainly, I am trying to keep at about 65-75% spinning and keep an easy pace on the run. And I still am amazed it feels easy on the run at this point. I try to visualize myself at some race, so I can pretend I am really competing, to see how I feel and whether I can hold a pace and continue. Even though my planned run was 15 minutes, I did increase the intensity the last couple of minutes and felt I could have done it sooner or just run longer. Step by step, minute by minute. That's how I plan to increase.

On another note, a couple of good things to have in this weather? Four-wheel drive and warm boots!

Sunday, February 04, 2007


Temp: 2 degrees
Windchill: -30
Snow Depth: 12 more inches since yesterday.

A new record, since back in 1999. The weather people were saying it reminded them of the late 1970s, when we had the two blizzards in '78 and '79. We didn't get quite that much snow, but it certainly has gridlocked everyone on the west side of the state.

Today, it is just a pool day. I went to the gym (which is fortunate it is open 24 hours, 365 days a year) with Don, since the Y was closed again today. He didn't get out yesterday, and today needed to check on his mom, and his niece was visiting from Chicago, so wanted to see her off and asked me to go along, since I had invited him to use my gym for the day.

I honestly have to say, the roads and visibility are worse today, with more blowing snow. It looked like a wasteland on some of the busiest streets in town. Don's mother lives about 10 miles southeast of town, so the farther out we headed, the worse it got. I was glad he was driving today.

While riding along, I decided to check on my dad again. I had talked to him Friday, finding out that he had been out that day in some really bad driving situations, and had told him to just stay home on Saturday. Why wasn't I surprised then when I talked to him to find out he did go out Saturday? I knew he would. I felt it all day, and probably should have checked on Saturday, but truthfully, I didn't want to know. Good thing I didn't call him Saturday. Here's how his day went: Went out to go to the grocery store, and not one up the road. Nooo, he had to go to the bigger grocery store and hardware about 15 miles away. To make matters worse, he went on the expressway, the one where the numerous car pileups occurred. Going, apparently he had no trouble. Coming back was another story. He said the whiteouts were so bad he couldn't see (didn't they tell you that on TV??) and he went off the road and got stuck. Continuing to make matters worse, he gets out of the car and walks on the highway, you know, the same one where the whiteouts were so bad you couldn't see or be seen. Fortunately, some good Samaratins picked him up, drove him to the garage near his home, and then took him home after he found out they would not be able to tow his car for hours. I wish I knew who these people were, so I could thank them, because they went miles and miles out of their way in an already dangerous situation to help out an old man. A stubborn old man at that. Then I had to argue with him again today about going out just to get a newspaper. For once, my brother offered to help out and went to get him his paper.

So we get to Don's mother's and he offers to drive ahead of his niece on the highway leading out of town until she gets to I-94, that would take her to Chicago area. I'm telling you, this wasn't my idea. I did not want to get on any highway and risk getting in a pileup and being stuck for hours, but he was confident we would be okay. It was a very nerve-wracking, long, slow drive, and then we missed our exit because you couldn't see a thing, forcing us to go farther yet to turn around.

I was very happy to get to the safety of the gym and a nice, relaxing swim.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


For once they were right--we were getting the blizzard as predicted. Usually, it seems like the more they talk about bad weather, the less likely it is to happen. After being out in it today, I can say it actually was bad.

My workout plan for the day was to do 10k, and I had already decided the day before, hearing the weather warnings, that it would be on the treadmill. When I got up this morning, I could see that the roads were heavily snow covered, with only one lane going down the middle. Reminded me of back in the '70s when we would get a blizzard and the only open lanes on streets other than highways and main roadways were the two tracks made by the brave souls who either had to go out or felt a need to be out for whatever reason.

Anyway, since my treadmill is still not fixed, if I was to get the job done, I would have to go to the gym. These is what I saw from my driveway and front door, and I would have to say these pictures do not do justice to the whole mess. By the time I got my car cleaned off and warmed up, I had to clean it off again.
As I was driving to the gym, I kept the radio on the traffic conditions, and heard there was a 50 car pileup north of town. Yikes!
Visibility was bad, driving was slow, and the only way to keep the windshield clear was to continually use the windshield wash that had antifreeze in it. (A trick I learned just this year!) And despite all this, I saw at least 3 people out walking in the street. Had they actually acknowledged there was traffic in the road, I might not have gotten so irked, but they walked along like they were on a sidewalk, and even after I honked, refused to move out of the way. (And yet, somehow I am the one who got hit by a car?? Five month anniversary today.)
When I got to the gym, I could see there were few cars in the lot, and I assumed these were people at the gym, but they were not, and it was already almost 11:30. I think it actually took me 30 minutes or more to go 5 miles. I found I was actually the first to arrive that day, according to the locker room attendant, who, he informed me, was leaving NOW.
So I was there alone. I started my run at 11 min. miles, way too fast for doing 10k, a distance I hadn't run since back in August. The first mile, done, but I was winded. Second mile, done, but more winded. Here, I had to slow it down. By the time I got to 3.75 miles, Jan showed up to do her 14 miles--on the treadmill. See, I wasn't the only crazy one.
Had she not shown up then, I might have caved in, but she just suggested walking a couple of minutes, which I did, and I slowed it down more, and before I knew it I was over 4 miles. I can do 2.2 more, easy, I told myself.
I wish it had been easy, but I did manage to get it done, slowing down even more. Live and learn. Start slow, get faster. Start fast, get slower.
The trip back home was even more adventurous. I forgot to turn my 4 wheel drive back on, and couldn't figure out why I was sliding some and having a hard time getting through intersections. Once I realized this, it was smoother going.
All day, though, they have had weather coverage of the "blizzard." The weather people are in their glory. Numerous car pileup on the highways. Low visibility, which I can attest to. About 1.5 miles from my house, the visibility was so bad I couldn't see where I was going at all, yet right by my house it was clear. My doors and windows of my house were plastered with snow that had been driven against them by the wind. Windchills are now up to 30 below. Malls and movie theaters even closed, and the buses stopped running. Its far colder in Minnesota, and I know Florida is suffering too. Its been a wild weather day!

Temp: 6
Windchill: -15
Snow Depth: 18 inches since Thursday

Definitely a day to stay in and run on the treadmill. Before I even got home from work Friday, cancellations by the hundreds were scrolling across the TV screen, cancelling events all the way up to Sunday. I was surprised to see the cancellation of the 25k mentor running groups who meet every Saturday. Now that was surprising. I have no doubt in my mind that people showed up ready to run though.

What is most incredible about this day is it was 11 years ago today that I ran a 5k in actual -25 degree temps. Windchill was -45. See how crazy I was back then?? It was one of those days when you can say, "It was so cold my _____ froze." [Insert whichever or all body parts you choose.]

A group of us planned to meet up to run a favorite winter race in Fremont, Michigan, about 55 miles north of Grand Rapids, home of Gerber Products. This race was either a 5k or 10k. Originally, I had signed up for the 10k, but when I heard the weather report, I decided to switch. The post race party boasted homemade soups, breads, and cookies. Now who wouldn't risk life and limb for that?

I rode to the race with a couple of friends, and I remember meeting when it was still dark. The ride up north was harrowing enough, because it was so cold no ice melting salt worked, so it was slippery as well as difficult to see because of poor visibility. But hey, we were runners. We could do anything!

It was no surprise to see the almost 400 runners who showed up. There was probably 15 or so from Grand Rapids alone, as well as many runners from the lakeshore. If you put on a race, they will come. Its all I could think of. What else would cause this many people to venture out on a day like this? And the surprising thing was, they never considered cancelling.

I dressed in my Gortex suit, over the top of 2 pair of tights, two shirts, a hooded sweatshirt, two pair of mittens and socks, a face scarf, hat, and sunglasses. Yes, even though the sun was not out (I think it was turned off that day), I decided to wear the sunglasses to protect my eyes from freezing open. I also put a layer of Vaseline on all exposed face parts to protect from the cold. Somehow, Imanaged to run the race, even though I looked like the Michelin Man. I know all that stuff slowed me down. LOL!

The sun actually made an appearance at some point in the race, because I was overwhelmingly blinded from the brightness even with the dark glasses. The glasses, by the way, had steamed up, and the steam had frozen, so I couldn't see a thing, and I was forced to look over the tops to see where I was going. I was still afraid to take them off for fear of the freeze factor, not to mention my hands were like big paws from two pair of mittens, and I couldn't maneuver anything if I had tried.

As I approached the finish line, however, I was forced to take them off so I could see where I was going, which at this point was like running blind. The finish line too had frozen over from so many people running on the snow layer on the road and I literally skidded into the finish and crashed into someone taking numbers.

I immediately went back to the school where the luncheon was held to thaw out. While my body wasn't cold, my face and fingers were. Amazingly, I ran 25:42 (which surprisingly for now was slow for me then). But it was good enough for 2nd in the AG.

After our group shared their war stores and lunch, we headed back to GR, only for me to find my car wouldn't start from the extreme cold! It was probably 4 hours later before we could get a towtruck out to tow the thing back to my house, so there was a whole day shot.

Did I ever do anything like that again? Surprisingly, yes. But for today, I think not.

Friday, February 02, 2007


That's what I found today. After moving into our new office digs back in June, I have been spending most lunch hours at my desk in an effort to either get my hours in during the week or just because of the arrangement of the new office setup is not conducive to quiet. Most days, I would sit at my desk getting depressed over reading the news, or being interrupted on every other bite from my boss who generally shows up around 11 every day. Not that sitting at my desk for 8 hours is relaxing, resting, or even remotely enjoyable. If it weren't for the Internet, well, you know, I'd go completely crazy here.
The new office setup is obviously designed for one purpose only: to make sure nothing anyone does goes unnoticed. No more cubicles or semi-private offices. Only the attorneys have doors they can close and hide behind (and I wish they would more often!). Each person's work station is set up so we face the walkway and the offices on the window sides of the building--yet most of us do not have any view of the outside. The paralegals have inner offices, no windows, and most are set back behind workstations like mine--meaning, I always have someone behind me or walking in front of me. I'm okay with blocking this out most of the time, but being the end person near the door, I get the most traffic, and the most requests for "where's so and so's office?" The only place of even semi privacy, up until I figured out something new today, was in the bathroom, and of course that's only limited. And not a place I'd want to eat lunch!
Today, I don't know what it was, but I was getting overwhelmed with noise, something I can usually block out. (Remember the woman on the treadmill?) Could it be the woman two stations down hacking constantly, sounding like she has a smoker's cough? (And she does this day in and day out.) Or how about the woman sitting behind me coughing, sputtering, and sniffling, telling everyone she's trying to fight off a cold, until I wanted to stuff a sock in her mouth? And she could shut her door, but of course she likes to be heard and seen for the attention, so it seemed like she exaggerated every cough and sniffle. Or maybe it was the 5 women who stand around and talk on and off all day long, right around the corner from me, who also monopolize the lunch room every day, one of whom cackles everytime she laughs, and today someone obviously was extremely funny, because she probably cackled a minimum of 20 times in the morning alone.
Complaining about noise, or anything for that matter, generally labels you as either a troublemaker or a tattletale, so unless there is some dire emergency, I rarely say anything to anyone and try to either solve problems for myself or avoid them as much as possible. HR doesn't do anything except send around an e-mail asking people to refrain from doing this or that, but being too "politically correct" (i.e., wimps) to deal with anyone about anything specifically.
So I took it upon myself to find a conference room and booked it for myself for the lunch time. It was heaven! A whole hour of quiet, where I was able to do the crossword puzzle without having to finish one some idiot started and messed up (I solved that problem by getting the extra copy from our lobby!) and eat my lunch in peace, without the cackling, the incessant drone of the news on the TV, the constant slamming of the door, and the constant foraging for food the lazy people who don't bring their lunches do. I definitely will be doing this again!

Spin 45 min.; run 15 min.; walk up 131 stairs.

In an effort to add new challenges to February, I decided to spin and then run today, mainly to see how it felt. Since I already did the indoor tri, and have done a few bike-run bricks on my own, I am just keeping it all in a low heart rate zone, to help build base. The stair climbing was not planned. I decided I needed to "sneak" into the office after I forgot and left my makeup bag and hair products in my desk. I don't usually even bring the stuff with me, since I leave my things in the gym (I am now hiding my bag to avoid dealing with whoever it is who thinks it is their mission to irritate me by moving my bag), but for some odd reason yesterday I stuck the things in my purse and took to my desk. Then, of course, I didn't want them in there all day so put them in a drawer--and promptly forgot about them. If it had just been the makeup, maybe I could have gotten on the elevator. But the hair and makeup? No way am I going to face my colleagues that way! LOL! Vanity.

The spin instructor is the guy I mentioned once before who is a pretty decent triathlete, but very intense in his spinning classes. He doesn't really follow the music either. He just has his own workout he puts us through, so there really is no rhyme or reason to what we will be doing. For example, if it is a slower song, I would do a slow climb or a slow standing climb. He does speed intervals. Or if it is a fast song, I might do speed intervals, a fast standing run, or maybe jumps. He has us crank the resistance and do climbing intervals. So I try to ignore the music as a way to determine my pedaling and just enjoy it for what it is.

The run on the treadmill went well. At first I thought I would just do one mile, but then decided on 15 minutes. Once again, I have to pat myself on the back for taking the Chi Running workshop, since with the Chi Running, you hardly feel any leg heaviness. On a real bike, it is momentary; on the spinning bikes, hardly at all. I felt really strong, and could easily have kept going had I had more time or wasn't doing a long run tomorrow. I have to admit too that after spinning, the running is easier yet!

The only annoying part of the run was being next to a woman who chants the whole time she walks on the treadmill or does the elliptical. I can't figure out what else to call it. The first time I heard her, I thought she was talking on a cell phone, with the earpiece thingy, but after glancing at her on my way out of the cardio room, I could see she was just mumbling or something. She's not signing to any music, although she might be saying the words. Who knows!! And I couldn't drown her out even with headphones and the music cranked higher than I could stand it. Weird!

This weekend, we are predicted to get blizzard-like conditions and an Arctic air mass blowing in, so I really suspect my long run (10k or better) will be on the treadmill. I am getting over my wimpiness, but I see no real reason to expose myself to those conditions when I don't have to. If the roads are dry, I'll go outside. If they are wet and sloppy, inside.

On another note, the groundhog did not see his shadow, which doesn't surprise me considering it doesn't even get fully light out here until close to 8 am or later, and the sun is now on permanent vacation anyway for at least the next six weeks.

Also, today is National Wear Red Day, a national awareness campaign for women about heart disease. Take care of your hearts ladies.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Yes, a new month, a clean slate. After being encouraged by last month's accomplishments, I am looking at the new month as new challenges. I'm not sure what yet, other than to improve my 5k time, extend my running distance, and hopefully get my bike before the end of the month.

I was really undecided what to do today, since I feel like I can now do more in the way of workouts, meaning I could probably start doing two-a-days on some days, or just upping the intensity on some things. I had even thought about running outside again today. Ha! Another snowy day here, and this time we got hit harder than the lakeshore. Probably about 3-4 inches of the fluffy stuff, and its still coming down hard. No, I'm not running on that slippery stuff, even if most of the sidewalks downtown are heated. Maybe I should do a longer easy bike and a run. Or weights, bike, and run.

In the end, I resorted to my planned workout--weights and speed run. On the weights, I have backed off some on some exercises, and am just maintaining on others. For example, anything that involves biceps, I have to really back off. Why? Because it messes up my rotator cuff, and after last week of having a sore arm, collarbone, and neck, I decided to go back to the original advice after PT and get comfortable with a lighter weight before moving on. For some odd reason, the muscles in the front of my shoulder are more affected by the injury to the back of the shoulder, so to avoid future and ongoing problems, I will back off on bicep weights. And no chest presses either. Same problem. I did, however, progress to pushups--15--bent knee. I never could do the other kind anyway. This doesn't bother me. Go figure. Always a trial and error it seems.

The speed run is really starting to progress too. I have gone from not being able to do anything more than an 11+ min. mile to now being able to start under 11 min. miles, build to 10:30, and then mix in at least 5 minutes under 10 min. miles. I think I can also work on this by doing tempo runs, something I used to do but seemed to have forgotten over these past few years. I used to do them all the time, and I know it is one of the keys to faster and stronger running for me. So maybe that should be a goal for the month--to progress to tempo runs on my midweek run. Its hard to do that outside, in the dark and cold, so I'm not sure yet how much I want to run on the treadmill for this, but I may be forced to.

Other than that, I am hoping to do another 5k on Feb. 10, and have already signed up for another indoor tri on Feb. 18. Between those weeks, I have to build my running distance. And this week it just may be 10k or more on the treadmill, since it is predicted to continue snowing over the next few days. I really don't mind the cold as much as the wet, sloppy roads. I really hate getting my shoes all soggy when its this cold. Not that my feet get cold much when running, its just that it ruins your shoes and your feet feel so much heavier the whole run.

Everybody have a good day!