Tuesday, March 27, 2007


See, Flo, I do the same thing with music.

In just a few hours, I'll be on the plane taking me to Tucson. Naturally, I didn't sleep for crap last night. After tossing and turning, getting up, watching some TV, listening to music, and finally getting back into a nice, deep sleep, it was time to get up.

Its always weird to think "by this time tomorrow." By this time tomorrow, I'll be in another time zone, another climate, another house, and maybe still in another bed. I haven't really allowed myself to go away in months, over than the one overnight a month ago, and then learning my dad had died while I was gone. So of course, I am once again apprehensive about leaving or being gone. Its one of those things where being that far away means I am out of control of certain situations, as if I had any control over someone dying anyway. Three years ago on spring break vacation with my kids, my grandson, my sister, and her kids, we got back to learn my son-in-law had killed himself. Obviously, nothing I could do once that had happened, but of course again, I will always wonder if I had been here, what if...

Okay, enough of that grim thinking. I am looking forward to some sunny climate, visiting Fe-Lady, visiting my relatives, and who knows what other adventures. The time will go by so fast, and I know I will wish for more.

I will try to read blogs and post to mine, but it may be sporadic. Just know I'll be thinking of all of you and thinking of things to tell you. In the meantime, have good workouts and good living .

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Preparing for my upcoming trip to Tucson, and a visit with Fe-Lady, who was kind enough to set me up with an appointment at TriSports for a bike fitting, I remembered that I needed to bring my bike shoes. I haven't seen them since my accident, so wasn't sure where they might be.

I finally found them among the cobwebs in the basement in a hospital bag, along with my bike gloves and a pretty mangled looking pair of socks. My shoes are old, probably almost 10 years old, so I figured I would get a new pair when I got a new bike. I haven't been using them for spinning classes because I basically forgot about them, and rarely used them before. Transferring them from the hospital bag to a plastic grocery bag, I noticed one was totally cracked on the bottom! That was the one that did not unclip on impact. In fact, my last memory before losing consciousness was seeing my shoe attached to my bike pedal, and realizing I wasn't on the bike. Surreal. I also examined the clips and noticed one was totally worn off and the other was rusted. Hmm. I guess I will go look for another pair now rather than wait until I get to Tucson.

So after work Friday, I headed to the LBS. Dale, the owner of this and the other named shops in the area, was there, and came over to greet me. I showed him my shoes, and we again had a discussion about my accident, what happened, what injuries I sustained, etc. (Dale has a terrible memory.) We had this same discussion in February when I first went in to look at bikes, and again earlier this month when I called to ask a question about bike fitting, etc. While talking, he looked at me, sizing me up it seemed, and finally said, "I think I have the perfect bike for you. Have you had our custom fit yet?" No, not yet. I was reluctant to tell him about my appointment next week in Tucson, but finally did say that I was going to be on vacation and had this planned.

He told me then that the bike he had in mind probably was perfect sizing for me, based on measurements he had taken for the person intended, and we appeared very close in size and build. Basically, I figured he wanted to push the bike, since the person had backed out on the deal. But of course he would not sell it to me without the custom fit first. Naturally, I was intrigued about this bike, but torn about how to handle the situation. I finally asked him how long it would take and how much it would cost, He told me then that it would only take "about an hour" and if, in fact, I purchased the bike he had in mind, he would waive the fee for the fitting. Whew, how do you turn down an offer like that?

So, three hours later, the fitting finally was done, he gets the bike, and yes, it is a perfect fit. It was as if the bike was made for me, waiting for me to show up and claim it. By now, it was dark out, and he wondered if I wanted to ride it. I said of course, but not tonight. I was tired and beat up from the whole experience, and just wanted to go home. So he offered to have it set up for me on Saturday so I could come back and test it. The bike in question is a Serotta. I only know one person who rides a Serotta, so know nothing about the bikes. The shop specializes also in Specialized and Giant, but after a review from Don when he tried out a couple of Specialized bikes last fall, I was convinced I did not want a Specialized. Nothing else to base my opinion on. But Serotta never came up in discussion.

When I mentioned the Serotta to Don later, he asked what model. Model? I can't remember. I didn't ride it, and I didn't look at it that much. So I went to the bikeshop web site and attempted to find the bike, only to be directed to the actual Serotta site from the link. I still was not sure about the model, and since no prices were listed, I really couldn't make any judgment on it. Don said that Kim's bike was $3700. OMG! There is no way I want to spend that kind of money for a bike, even if I had it. I then automatically figured it was too much bke for me.

I did go to the bike shop Saturday, and Don came along. He knows quite a bit about componentry and the like, so he was going to check it out. He already figured if it was a Serotta it would be good.

I was a little nervous about getting on a bike, particularly since the traffic around the bike shop is some of the worst in the area, and being a Saturday it was likely to be even worse. But Idid it, and just rode around the parking lot. I could not get clipped in on the left shoe, so likely some adjustment would have to be made. But of course the bike was a dream. Lightweight. Responsive. But what do I know?? I have been riding a low end road bike that never fit me right for 7 years, so anything above that would be wonderful. And I as much told the guy at the shop. After finding out the price <$3,000>, I knew I couldn't make that decision that day.

First, this whole thing has been a whirlwind. I wasn't expecting to go through all this right now. While I am anxious to get moving on a bike, this wasn't what I expected to have to make a decision about right now, right before my upcoming trip. Second, the price thing of course is hard to take. It would be a luxury I, someone born guilt ridden and who feels generally non-deserving, would have a hard time justifying to myself, if no one else. And the price would not include aero bars, a computer, or pedals! Yikes. What to do, what to do? I know Serotta is a good name, an excellent bike, and as the bike shop guy put it, probably the last bike I would ever need to buy. But still...

How I left it then was, I am going on vacation. I will get back to you when I get back. (If I lose out on the fit deal, oh well. Of course I had to pay for that then.) I figure this will give me a chance to try out some bikes at TriSport, particularly since I have the fit out of the way, and they can use those specs to find something that might work. If I like what I find, of course I will make a purchase. So there, I've decided.

One thing to point out, the decision on whether I should go tri bike or road bike was pretty much spelled out for me clearly by the specs from the fitting. Because of my past injuries and limitations from the injuries, they (this bike shop) did not have a tri bike that would accommodate me, which was why the Serotta road bike came into play and surprisingly was a perfect fit. The Serotta has an adjustable top tube, allowing it to be brought up a little higher to accommodate my shoulder/neck problems. Whether there are any other bike makes out there that can accommodate this limitation remains to be seen. That is what I am hoping to explore while in Tucson.

The rest of the weekend was a busy blur, due to the bike shop detour. Three hours Friday night and another two on Saturday put me behind the schedule I had planned on for the weekend. The weather was glorious, and I did manage to get in a 6.5 mile run Sunday without too much trauma to my foot. The rest of the day then was spent getting my hair done (at my sister's who is a hair stylist), discussing family business (selling my dad's car, dealing with his house, dealilng with my brother, etc.), picking up the grandkids for lunch/dinner while their mom worked, and working a few hours as well to get caught up on last minute details before my trip. So it was late by the time I got home and to bed Sunday night.

I know I will not be ready when the time comes to get on the plane, but I want to get as many things out of the way as I can so I can clear my mind and relax some. Not sure how I will post to my blog while gone, because I am NOT bringing my old, clunky laptop this time, but I'll figure something out.

Friday, March 23, 2007


March 23, 2007

I have pretty much had it with my insurance company, as you will see from my frustration spelled out in this letter. After having a conversation with someone last night about his bike accident, which was fairly minor compared to mine, I found out that not only did he get everything replaced and all his medical paid, but he also got a $2000 settlement to not sue. In Michigan, we basically can't sue under the Michigan No Fault Law (a law, I know, does not favor the victim but was obviously designed to not only limit tort liability but also to favor the insurance industry). I am so frustrated by this whole thing, especially after I heard his story, not the first one I heard, that I decided to send this letter before I calmed down. Not only that, once again when I got home last night, the unpaid ambulance bill awaited me. So here it is, only a partially edited version to avoid getting sued myself!

Ms. _____________
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company
2450 44th Street, SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512

Re: Vickie Baker
Date of Accident: 9/3/06

Dear __________:

Since we last spoke, I have again received another bill from ________ Ambulance, which I am again enclosing for payment. According to my records, my $300 deductible has been met, however, this bill remains to be paid and was not to be considered part of the deductible. In fact, upon further review, I was charged $500 for a deductible, which I believe to be incorrect. I believe I am still owed $200 for this incorrect charge, as well as your payment of the _______ Ambulance bill.

It goes without saying that I am extremely unhappy with the handling of my claim. This accident was not my fault, yet I get no relief under Michigan law for any of my inconvenience, pain, or suffering, and added to that, the reluctance by your company to pay legitimate claims. I realize that the driver of the vehicle that stuck me was uninsured, leaving me to have to pick up the tab for a lot of things I should not have to pay, so it is extremely disappointing that when I am entitled to any relief by my insurance company that I have to constantly remind you of your duty to me as your customer. I feel like everything I say is suspect, as if I am faking this claim. I have taken it upon myself to rehab from my injuries the best I can, and without using any resources that would be considered a claim, but I feel as if I have to explain everything—the fact that yes, I am working (if I had to wait for reimbursement on any lost wages for 4 months, who would support me?); that yes, I continue to be treated by Dr. ______, with no consideration as to the fact that I have been able to cut back on visits by my own work at rehabilitating myself; that yes I still have pain and discomfort and likely will have forever; that yes, it has affected my daily life; and yes, my hobbies and interests have been affected. All of this has been explained every time I talk with someone from your office, and I feel as if they are trying to catch me off guard about how I am really doing, particularly based on the tone of the questioning.

I have had two conversations recently with people who were quite shocked to hear of the way my claim has been handled, based on their own similar experiences, having been involved in bike accidents themselves. I realize the difference here is that they were fortunate enough to be struck by insured individuals, which is not the case for me. But that should not eliminate your duty to me as a customer.

The fact remains that nothing out of the ordinary has been done for me, and I would think you or your company would do everything possible to make sure I did get some relief from the uninsured driver, in some way, but maybe that goes above and beyond your scope of duty. I am still out more than $3000 for out of pocket expenses, including deductible, bike reimbursement, equipment replacement, and other expenses related to my claim. I haven’t even been able to get the gas mileage for my doctor appointments, as was promised by you in an earlier conversation, and it has been six months. The only recourse I have is to spend more money and time to sue this woman, since you are conveniently let off the hook because of her lack of insurance.

I am tired of asking for reimbursement of things I am entitled to and your lack of follow-up on my claim. I am once again asking that the _______ Ambulance bill be paid, that you refund the $200 wrongly deducted from my wage reimbursement ($500 was deducted), and that you reimburse me for my mileage owed for past and continued doctor visits. If I don’t get these matters resolved soon, I will be forced to go to someone higher in your company.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Vickie Baker

c: _________ Ambulance


I guess it is time to get excited! The day is almost here. Tuesday morning, Don and I leave for Tucson, where we will meet up with none other than Fe-lady!

Typically, in the days before a vacation, work is ridiculously busy. So many details to attend to. But that's just me, I guess. I know there are things needing to be done that I don't want to entrust to others here, since they always come up short in my expectations of doing what needs to be done. Its the nature of our business too. A lot of anal people, strategic planners as we are called. Always searching for that last piece of information before being able to complete a task. Anyway, I digress.

I am looking forward to this trip for so many reasons. The first, of course, is just to have a nice vacation in some WARM weather. True, it is actually warming up here, but I want hot. After the winter we had here, hot will be great. I just want to bake in the desert for a few days!

Next, and maybe most important, is meeting up with Fe-lady. Something I'm sure all of you have found in the blog world, the tri-running blog world especially, is that there is always some people you seem to connect with. You form a strong bond, and then, if you're lucky, you actually get to meet the person. In my case, I felt comfortable enough with her to go visit without hesitation. I hope I am worthy of her expectations of me!

And I know this is horrible to think, but I am hoping this time while being gone nothing will happen to anyone in my family. I don't know why I have been jinxed with this curse, but four times while taking vacations, a tragedy happened, so of course I worry and feel guilty at the same time about going anywhere.

On another note, my swim times are finally improving. Just in the past month, since starting the Sprint 8 program, my strength has started returning. Its not something noticeable in amount of weight I can lift, although I have gone up some in a month, but it is the overall increase in fitness I seem to be experiencing. There is definitely something to a higher intensity workout that seems to have put me over the hump on fitness. I honestly have to say I have noticed a huge change in having less shoulder/neck/back discomfort even while increasing intensity. It just isn't there like it was for so long. I can actually make it through the day at work without losing my train of thought or watching the clock because of fatigue.

Now, it could be a coincidence, since it has been over 6 months since my accident, and I do believe the numbers there are a key too, but for so long (I am talking years), I have just been getting by on workouts, never really putting my all into what I'm doing, but always trying to do things because others are doing them, even while I wasn't really on board with that philosophy, if that makes sense. So I have to wonder if that's part of it too. When I look back to my competitive running days, there was something there that has been missing for a long time, other than fast running, where I didn't have injuries or long periods of down time, and I also believe that is a key. Yes, I realize I was younger, and I know that plays a role too, but I think I am one of those people who thrive on shorter, higher intensity workouts, so I really feel I need to focus my efforts there, rather than always looking to the longer, slower endurance events. Don't get me wrong, endurance events have their merit too, but I firmly believe we all have things we are better at doing than others, and we should capitalize on that. I know I have a LONG way to go to even get close to what my potential is, but at least I am finally seeing some progress.

So now I need to buckle down and get some work done too!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


That would be three days in a row of running! Yee ha! I can finally get some miles in. Two mornings out in the still cold and dark, and today inside on the treadmill. Thunderstorms with lots of lightning dictated that. Getting struck by lightning is not something I want to deal with next.

Its been like night and day on the running. Last Saturday, after a dismal 5k run, I turned around Sunday and went at it again, even though it was on the treadmill. Two days in a row was really putting myself out there, what with the foot problem. But then miraculously, it cleared up. Its not 100%, but I'll take the 97% and keep working on getting it to 100%.

New shoes today, so that was a nice treat. Brooks Adrenalines. That's pretty much my shoe. Its probably been at least 5 years since I've changed styles, but until another shoe comes along that is compatible with my weird feet, I'll stick with those. Funny thing is, I started out in Brooks 19 years ago, and have only tried a few different brands during that whole time, none of which were successful except a now defunct Nike model. Loved those, but they only made them 2 years, and they didn't hold up well and were very expensive, but still probably my favorite shoe of all times. Got all my running PRs with those shoes. No other Nike has been able to do it for me, however.

As for the chocolate, since Christmas, I have been slowly sneaking that back into my diet, something I had banned from my lips for many months. Its not that I've been eating that much of it, not enough to upset my balance, until recently. For some reason, I started thinking I could eat it with abandon again. Only to have the same results occur--stomach distress. Every day. Every time I run. And then some. Yesterday, it was a close call getting back to the bathroom in time. Today, I was really glad I was inside and on the treadmill. Three times I had to get off and fly to the bathroom. So it was a kind of choppy workout, but I still kept at it until I did what I planned to do. The only way to be confident on my planned weekend long run is to STOP IT NOW! :(

So no Dove chocolate at Easter. No dark chocolate, 85% cacao, which I love. No chocolate at all. The only way I can break a habit is to stop it completely.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Last week at this time, I was truly suffering from my PF, to the point where it felt like someone had taken one of those electric staplers and attacked my heel. Or a nail gun. I did a week's worth of therapy and the difference today was remarkable.

A week ago, I was VERY tired out, due, I'm sure to the post-funeral fatigue/sadness that had finally had a chance to wash over me. Not that I'm not sad any more, but a wave of energy has now washed over me, noticeably so.

I'm not sure really what is happening, but I am glad to not be going into vacation next week feeling so down. I read all the posts about everyone out running, and it is motivating to me, and getting over the crippling pain of PF, I can't wait to get out there myself. I did run 30 minutes this morning, on the shoes that now remind me of running with 2 x 4s strapped to my feet, but tonight I will get the new shoes and hopefully will be running on air again soon.

Its always a good feeling to have that workout done before it is even light out. I always like the way my legs feel throughout the day too, making me realize I have the ability to do more than just sit and get old and fat. I am looking forward to running more next week--in warm weather! Guess I better look for my shorts.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Actually, not necessarily. But it is rainy and it is Monday, and this was a song I happened to hear this morning, so a good lead in.

Made it to spinning this morning. We had a substitute, the jumping queen. I swear, more than half her class is always jumps. But I pushed through it and kept my heart rate in the 80% zone.

On the foot front, I should know better. After almost 19 years of being involved with running in one form or another, why didn't I think of this before?? I'm talking about my PF problem. I'm talking about the fact that I can't remember when I last bought a new pair of shoes. The shoes I wore last summer were broken in nicely and were already partly trashed, so perfect for sprint tris--my feet get very wet when I run, and my shoes break down quickly because of this, but it doesn't really bother me in the warm weather. Its just when we get into the frozen tundra weather that my feet rebel, and that's probably why the last 2 winters I have had plantar problems. That and a bad orthotic, most likely. People don't realize running on frozen concrete can affect your body. Who would have thought??

Anyway, after my run Saturday, my heel wasn't too bad so I figured I could manage a short workout with weights on Sunday. And yes, that went fairly well also. My heel actually calmed down quite a bit by late afternoon, almost totally in fact, but then I noticed something else: the bones in my feet generally ached, and my pelvis was achey as well. Then a lightbulb went off in my head. Could it be my shoes were worn out? Could it be all the cushioning was pretty well shot?

When I used to run mega miles, I replaced my shoes at the first signs of pelvic distress, usually about every 3 months. Sometimes less. It was the only luxury I afforded myself, since my running was so important to me. But over the last few years, my running has been so poor, I don't follow this rule so closely. And that's usually how worn out shoes affect me.

So I looked at the heels of the shoes and didn't see much wear, although I know these shoes are quite old, but the arches showed breakdown. You can tell this by looking at the rubber or whatever material is on your shoes, and looking for stress cracks. Yes, there were lots of them. I had to think back to way before my accident and then realized something: I was going to wear the old, comfy shoes until the end of the tri season (since they had the stretchy laces already in place) and then get a new pair of shoes. Of course, that opportunity never happened because once I had the accident, I forgot all about needing new shoes. I didn't even wear any running shoes for two months, so the thought totally escaped me. When I did start out running again, I wasn't running that much, but I couldn't put on my stretchy lace shoes because they were actually too tight for my toes that were broken, so I pulled out an old pair of shoes, and now I'm not really sure how old these things are.

So I will be getting a new pair of shoes and see if I can further improve the heel/achey foot/pelvis problem and actually get some running in.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

LET THEM EAT CAKE, or Irish Jig 5k, March 17, 2007.

That was one of the post-race goodies at the 5k today. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The general consensus was to go ahead and do the race, despite not feeling ready or up to it, and not worry about my time. Whew! Okay then, that's an excuse I can use.

This race is one of the largest 5ks in the state, and even though its considered an early season race, there is prize money given out, and it usually means a large contingent of east siders (meaning Ann Arbor or Detroit area) will be here to try to claim the overall and age group prizes. When I went to pick up packets (mine and Don's) after work last night, it should have been a forwarning of the numbers expected the next day. My number was 2474. That's more than 10 times the number of runners from my last 5k back in February. They had run out of shirts at 2000, so I got a refund on my race entry, and ended up only having to pay $15. No big deal. I have enough shirts, and this particular one, while a very nice long sleeved shirt, is always way too big and I have never worn any of my other ones.

Race morning dawned, and listening to the weather, I wasn't surprised. "Nineteen degrees, with winds out of the northwest." Winds out of the northwest means colder than normal. "But there will be abundant sunshine, making it seem warmer than it will be." Yeah, I know how that goes. The weather around here at this time of year is always a tease; while there may be abundant sunshine lots of days, there is also abundant cold and blustery weather, making me get really impatient for any weather over 45 degrees.

I still had to wear double layers for this type of weather, since I haven't been running outside enough to be wearing the shorts or short sleeved shirts like I was starting to see others wear. I got to the race site about 45 min. early, and already the streets surrounding the high school where the race was to start were lined from block to block with cars. The people in this area have to be quite tolerant of this stuff, since this is where 90% of the races in the Grand Rapids area take place. Generally, there is no parking anywhere within 6 blocks of the start.

This was going to be my "long" run for the month. With all the events happening in my life in recent weeks, my training had slid, and I had gotten no new mileage accomplishments. My game plan, then, was to run 15 min. before the race, run the race, and run 15 min. after. That would be at least an hour I figured, and only about an hour off where I should be for my long run at this time of the year! I was parked far enough from the start to use this for my warmup, although it wasn't quite 15 min. away. I circled around for a few extra minutes but then decided I should try to find a bathroom and get in line, figuring it would be a long one with all these people.

A long line wasn't even close to describing the mess I came upon. Here we were, at a brand new school, and you know there is more than one bathroom for each gender, but try to find another one and you were out of luck. The lines for both men's and women's were so long I'm not really sure where they started. Forget that. I headed back outside. Little did I know there were about 20 porta-johns on the other side of the school. Instead, I headed down the street to the local area grocery store where I knew there was a bathroom. I figured I was going to be so clever and not have to wait. Oh right! About 40 other people had the same clever thought, and with only 2 stalls in this bathroom, the wait got to be more than most of us could tolerate. After almost 15 min. of not getting any closer, the scene got ugly, and the few men who dared to use the men's bathroom were being told to go to the back of the line and wait like the rest of us. I finally got my chance and ducked inside the men's room just in time. The race was scheduled to start in 1 minute!

With a chip start, it wasn't that big of a deal, but with over 2400 people lined up on the street, the only place I was going to be able to start was way in the back. I'm not exactly sure when the race started, since you couldn't hear anything where I was, but as we were leisurely moving forward, I could see runners two blocks over and knew the race had already started--for them at least.

I could finally hear the timing mats chirping, so knew we were getting close. This was almost 5 minutes after the predicted start time. And then we were off. I hadn't done this course ever, since the race site had moved to the present location about 3 years before, and while I had signed up for that race, I had slipped and fallen on the ice just before the start, and ended up dropping out early because of a problem from the fall. I was hoping since it was a money race that it would be a flat and fast course. No such luck. Within the first 1/4 mile, we rounded a corner and headed up our first hill. Nothing much, but probably a 2% grade, and just a short block long. Just enough to make breathing in the cold air a chore. I had been successfully picking my way through the slowest people and walkers, but then got bogged down on this short hill block, and even more so when a woman in front of me tripped on her untied shoelaces and then, of all things, bends over right on the course to tie it! A group of us just about had a pile up right then and there.

Before I got to the first mile, the overall male winner was coming into the finish line, which we passed before the first mile. 13:20 was the unoffcial time. A new course record. I would guess!

So the first mile came up, and another small hill. I was really feeling the cold air and figured I would just continue trying to breathe easy and not stress out my lungs. There was still no thinning of the crowds, so it was still an obstacle course to move around slower people. Hard to believe there was anyone much slower than me, but as I've said before, my place seems to be pretty much middle of back of the pack. Before the second mile, another steep, short hill. So much for flat and fast. Somewhere between 2 and 3 miles, we passed a house with a young boy in a kilt playing bagpipes. Whoa, pretty amazing. By the time I could actually see the last turn in the race, the volunteers and those cooling down kept saying, just another half mile, just another 2 laps around the track. I looked at my watch and it was at 29 minutes already and I wasn't happy. I just wanted to be done and knew there would be no way I was going to be close to 30 minutes. I was still picking people off, but I hardly think it is much of a triumph to be passing walkers or 75 year old men. I actually put a little more lean into my run though and really did pass about 10 people in that last stretch before the finish.

As I approached the 3 mile mark, I saw Don standing there waiting for me. I could almost hear his thoughts! "Pick up the pace. Pass someone!" Now, it may seem like he is a cruel, heartless bastard, but the truth is he is such a disciplined athlete himself that he sets the bar for me, and I always try to achieve more because of this. His philosophy is to race to win. Always. No matter the circumstances. He never goes into a race as a training run, and scoffs at me when I use that as an excuse. So I did what he yelled, picked up the pace (as if it might actually do some good at this point), passed someone, and sprinted toward the finish line. I can't tell you how glad I was to be done with this!

A disappointing 34:09, 53rd out of 72. Where did I actually think I might get under 30 minutes for a 5k, when my longest run for more than a month was probably only 2.8 miles?? Oh well, it was what it was. I did put some effort into it, and did the best I could on this day. When Don found me, he said he was ready to leave, but I said I wanted to run at least another 10 minutes, and thought he should wait for the results to see how he did in his age group, considering he almost always places. So we headed back to the school, very slowly. By the time we had run only about 4 minutes, I was ready to stop, so we headed into the gym and the first thing we saw was cake! Lots of it, and it was very tasty. We had totally bypassed all the other goodies without knowing it, so this was it. When the results were put up, probably 1/2 hour later, Don learned he was 8th out of 25! Winning time in his age group was 18 something! He had 24 something, which is slow for him, but everyone had the same complaint: it was too cold yet!

So there it was, another race down, but no farther ahead on my training. It can only get better, right?

Friday, March 16, 2007


Unusual to think this way, right? Well, first, there's this 5k I'm supposed to be doing tomorrow. After the last 5k fiasco back in February, I've lost some confidence in my ability to pull off even a 10 min. steady pace. Between that race and now, the weather has been horrible, my dad died, and my PF flared up almost unbearably, putting me way behind in my training miles. Add to that just a little bit of feeling down, probably more so than a week ago, with the realization that I won't be seeing my dad again or doing any of the things I had been doing with or for him. That should be somewhat of a relief, but it is really just grief, I know. And my sleeping hasn't been the best in weeks, probably adding to this melancholy feeling. I've been extremely tired this week, especially after workouts too, and have been skipping a lot of them. So, you can see how I would be reluctant to get too worked up about this race. If the weather was like it was a few days ago, 50-60 degree temps, I think I would be looking forward to it more. But now that the weather has gone back to being colder than normal, it doesn't seem like any fun. Even if I skip it, I still am scheduled to work tomorrow afterward, adding to the frustration of the week.

And then there would be Sunday, and most likely another day at my dad's sorting and cleaning. That job in itself isn't what bothers me. What bothers me is the long drive there and back and then my brother pestering me while I am there, always wanting to know what I'm doing, "suggesting" things that I need to do, and generally just getting in the way. I feel like I've got a two year old around that needs to be watched constantly because they always get into things. And that's exactly what he does. Gets into things. Because he is always at some stage of being drunk, he starts doing something, stops, goes to something else, and then goes back to what he first started. And doesn't remember anything later. I lock the door so he doesn't just barge in, but he ends up pounding on the door until someone lets him in, and then is angry because he is locked out. He assumes I lock the door because I am "scared" of being in the house alone, but the truth is I am only "scared" of him and his annoying self. What aggravates me the most is the fact that he thinks it is necessary for him to come in and throw things away without asking, check the water softener, check the lights, turn off the refrigerator, check the thermostat, grumble about not having a key, and generally just trying to hang around, when any and all of these things were a bother to him when my dad was alive. Too little, too late. Because of that, I have to keep going back to do things I could have gotten done on one or two trips. When I leave there, I am angry and frustrated at him, and my nerves are frazzled.

So yeah, I'm not necessarily looking forward to this weekend. What I am looking forward to, however, is a visit to Tucson, AZ, to visit none other than Fe-lady on March 27. She has been gracious enough to invite me down with a place to stay. I had been hoping to go earlier this winter, but it never worked out. I also plan to visit some relatives in Apache Junction, where I went last year. I don't usually get too worked up about doing something until just before it is time to go, but would be a whole lot more excited about everything if I didn't have all this other baggage hanging over my head. Hopefully, I shake this whole thing before I go. I want to be able to enjoy the weather and sunshine and relax!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Yes, we actually are showing some signs around here that winter is on the downslide. Some of the things I saw yesterday: sunshine and blue skies; runners in shorts; robins; spring flowers poking up from the earth; people riding with convertible tops down or sunroofs open; snow melting; the temperature guage in my car at 72! According to the weather statistics, the last time it was this warm this early was in 1990; the last time it was even 70 degrees was in October. It has been amazing the metamorphisis over the last 5 days, what with warmer temperatures and melting snow piles, when the weekend before we had another late winter storm dumping many inches of snow and up to several feet of drifting snow. I have seen the probably 3 feet of snow in my back yard melt down to the shabby grass from last year.

This morning, I would have had to have had a peg leg to not run outside, and even then, I might have hobbled along if necessary. It was still 59 degrees at 6:30 am, probably calling for shorts, but I couldn't bring myself to get out of the tights just yet. March 14? Still winter. So I ran in tights and a long sleeved shirt. That was amazing in and of itself, since the last time I ran outside I still wore a face mask.

I hit the streets while it was still dark (of course, thanks to DST!), and decided to head to the track, up the hill about a half mile. I haven't been up there since probably December, when I was still running/walking, and today that half mile uphill kicked my butt. I just couldn't get all the way to the top without walking. But the plan was to do some sprints on the track, if it was in fact cleared of snow. Just a week ago, the track was totally under a blanket of snow, so I didn't really know what to expect but was hopeful it would be melted. I was thrown off at first by the huge (higher than the fence surrounding it) snow pile that had been plowed out of the alleyway adjoining the track, but I could see the track itself was clear of snow.

The interval workouts I have been doing have been 30 seconds fast, 90 seconds normal or slow, but since it was too dark to really keep track on my watch, I opted for sprint 1/4 of the way, normal jog the rest of the way. The first sprint felt so good. I just can never get over that long-ago feeling of fast running, so even running a meager 30+ seconds felt wonderful. I know I will never really be fast again, not without a lot more work and good luck, but my legs felt loose, and since I have been doing this workout now for almost 3 weeks, the faster pace felt easier. Even the slower recovery jog felt easier. This feeling lasted pretty much throughout the whole workout, so even if I couldn't see my time and be sure I was keeping the same or better pace, I went by how I felt on the recovery.

I also was keeping track of any signs of the plantar flaring up, since I do have to admit that increasing speed has likely also been a factor in the recent problems. After the ibuprofen/icing/stretching therapy over the last few days and an adjustment of the orthotics, I came through fairly good. Just a little "touchy" pain, but nothing that got me limping afterwards. I just think it will be a constant battle to overcome this.

After 8 laps around (not 2 miles, since it is a 5 lap to the mile track), I headed back down the hill, one of those steep, get-out-of-my-way type hills. I had to weave back and forth on the sidewalk, since it was somewhat uneven, and the college students were starting to converge on the campus for their early morning classes. I figure 2.8 miles, good enough for a sprint workout and testing out the foot. My time for this, including the uphill walk, and waiting for traffic lights on the way back was 30:35, probably 5 minutes or more faster than in December. I still have a LOT of work to do on catching up on my mileage and my goal of getting back under 30 min. for a 5k, but at least I am making some progress.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Thanks for all the responses on my stupid, stupid PF problem. I am pretty irritated about this situation, and anything that will help get rid of it I'm willing to do. I have had my feet taped before by my podiatrist, but he is an old man now and tends to go away for a lot of the winters, so getting an appointment any time soon is out of the question. I have found that stretching my calf out several times a day does help. I don't really know why it tightens up as much as it does, especially when sitting. But that is part of the problem. I also did some ibuprofen therapy a few times yesterday and icing a couple of times. The pain is still there, but at least I can walk today. I also went one step farther and made an appointment to get my orthotics adjusted. I suspect that is also part of the problem, especially when I talked to the guy and he said to come right in.

On another note, I will concede that all of you out there who love daylight savings time have a point. I, however, am still adjusting, as I knew I would have to. Sunday night I didn't go to sleep until midnight DST. Monday morning I didn't wake up until 6:20 and today was worse! I didn't even hear my alarm and woke up at 7:20. It was just starting to get light out. Hmm, what does that tell me? A few more days, and hopefully I will be able to get up on time again!

Monday, March 12, 2007


I mean on my PF: plantar fasciatis. Here is a definition I can certainly relate to:

Plantar Fascitis
Literally speaking, this is an inflammation ("itis") of the plantar (bottom of the foot) fascia. The most common symptom is pain in the bottom of the heel when first arising in the morning or after being seated for a period of time. The pain usually dissipates fairly quickly after moving about, and in some cases may return later in the day after prolonged standing. Many people describe the first symptoms as feeling like a "stone bruise" on the bottom of the foot. Left untreated, these symptoms may accelerate to the point where acute pain is present with nearly all activity. The plantar fascia is a tough fascia, much like a ligament, that spans the arch of the foot attaching at one end to the heel bone and at the other end to the ball of the foot. When your foot contacts the ground, your arch is "unlocked" so that your foot can absorb shock and adapt to uneven terrain. As your arch drops, the plantar fascia is stretched. If your calf muscle is a little tight, it places additional stress on the plantar fascia as your heel comes up off the ground. Microtrauma occurs and this sets the stage for the inflammatory process to begin.
Probable causes:
tight calf muscles (other leg muscles may also be involved)
inadequate support from the running shoe
training errors (too many hills, too much speed too soon)
biomechanical (excessive or prolonged pronation) Treatment strategies:
stretch calf muscles (3-5 times per day is helpful)
examine shoes for wear & replace frequently
ice (10 minutes 2-3 times/day if possible)
adjust training schedule (decrease speedwork & hills)
see a biomechanical specialist for a full assessment, gait analysis and treatment.

As much as I have touted the value of the tennis ball, this time I can't seem to clear up the problem with my usual methods. Not that the usual methods don't work. Its just that I need to be more aggressive to get rid of this problem. As beautiful of weather as we had this weekend, I was sidelined after only 2 miles of running, which left me hobbling the rest of the day and Sunday. I am getting way behind on my mileage goals, but worse yet I feel like I can't even walk or stand around comfortably because of this problem.

I can blame the recent flareup to all the funeral home standing around, the horrible weather we had forcing me to wear a pair of boots I wouldn't have worn if not for the snow and needing to wear a dress to the church services. I changed out of those as soon as I could, but the damage had already set in.

I know my right calf gets tight--even from sitting. My left one was injured in the accident and yet there is no problem any more. I can't seem to figure this out for long. The description above is right on, and I have to say right now I am at the chronic pain level so that each step is more than just a pain.

So I intend to start being more vigilant with the foot massaging, calf stretching, and taking ibuprofen regularly over the next 5-7 days at least to get this cleared up for good. I also need to replace my shoes, most likely, and have my orthotics adjusted or replaced--again.

Just another day in the life of a triathlete and runner.

Friday, March 09, 2007


I'm talking about Daylight Saving Time. The new Daylight Saving Time. We can thank one of Michigan's lawmakers for that.

I'm not sure how any of you feel about DST in the first place, but moving the clocks ahead and extending daylight longer doesn't really seem to be necessary. For the past month, it has actually been light out when I get out of work. For the past week, I have noticed it is actually getting lighter out when I either get up in the morning or head to the gym. This morning, shortly before 6:30 am, I could already see the sky lightening.

So what happens as of Sunday morning at 2 am? The clocks move ahead, making it dark longer in the morning. Yes, I realize that means it will be light longer in the evening, but here on the cold, frozen tundra, having more light at either end of the day isn't going to cut back on any energy consumption, nor will it encourage me into outdoor activities into the evening. At least not until June, when it might actually be warm enough for an evening ride. Even with that said, my evening rides would still be finished by 8 pm at the latest, well before it would be dark. I'm still a morning person, after all.

Looking at it from my own viewpoint, I already get up early in the morning, so whether it is light or dark isn't going to change what I do. While it is nice to see daylight when I get out of work, I still will go to bed at the same time, again negating any advantage that may come of the longer daylight hours. In fact, it probably makes it harder to go to bed at a decent time, since it is light out longer, especially in the summer months. And as far as I am concerned, kids out of school already have the whole day to do whatever they are going to do anyway, so why extend daylight hours so they are out on the streets longer?

Now, if I could somehow work my hours at work so I was out doing what I wanted in the early part of the day, until maybe 10 am, and then being able to go to work, it might actually help me stay awake longer if it were light out later. Since that isn't going to happen, I wish they would leave well enough alone.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Yesterday, while still off work, after the graveside services, and other things to attend to, I decided to stop by a bike shop I had intended to stop at last week, before my life was so untimely interrupted. I found out recently that this shop carries Felt bikes, something I wasn't finding anywhere else in the area, and a bike brand I have been very interested in. The problem, if there is one, is that this shop caters to mountain bikers, but they do carry a full line of Felts, or as a dealer can order anything one chooses. They also carry Raleigh bikes. My old bike was a Raleigh make (Univega), so I found that a coincidence, since I haven't seen that make in town since I bought my bike back in 2000.

Again, the problem, if there is one, is that this shop does not do bike fits. They feel they can size you up well enough without the "custom" fit, the fit that costs $150 at the shops that offer it.

My ex-brother-in-law works there, which I wasn't sure of anymore, but figured it might be a bonus in maybe getting a discount on something. He whispered to me too that they were having a sale next week, so wait to buy something.
Okay, here's the dilemma. First, do I forego a bike fit to get the bike I really want, meaning a Felt versus a Specialized? Second, do I choose a road bike over a tri bike? The reason I wonder about the road versus tri is that they do not seem to make a women's specific tri bike with 700 cc wheels, something I want. (650 tubes are hard to find around here) I don't understand this, since I was pretty sure I found one online somewhere in the last few months. Now, nothing. Just men's.
And the thing about men's bikes? Well, I just found out that my 47 cm bike I have been using for the last 6 years, the one that never seemed to fit no matter what they did with it, was a men's bike. All this time, I never knew that. I couldn't believe it when they had me stand over a women's road bike, 50 cm. and it felt like a toy. Then a light dawned in my brain. So if this is what a women's bike is like, it is very obvious I had a men's bike before. The difference was plain to see: while I felt like I towered over a 50 cm women's bike, I actually had difficulty standing with my old bike for long. It was one of those things where if I didn't concentrate, I would topple over--easily. Because I was trying to balance on something too big for me. So I'm thinking now too is there any way that "47 cm" bike was really maybe 52 cm? Or is there indeed that much of a difference in men's and women's bikes? According to the bike shop people, there is a huge difference in men's and women's bikes.
So the search continues, and I have to wonder if I really need to spend $150 for that bike fit if all I really need is a women's bike! Your answers quickly please!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


I haven't really been working out since my dad died, for obvious reasons. For over a week, I have had people around me constantly, my daughter was here from out of state, daily meetings with the other family members, funeral home visitation, etc. Every time I went to my dad's house to look for papers or anything else we needed, someone was always with me, never giving me any alone time at his house to just take in what had been his life. My brother showed up drunk the first day, barging in, trying to pack things up, making no rhyme or reason to his actions or rambling words because of his state of incoherence. I felt distracted by this and angry at his butting into my emotions and thoughts. Later, we would learn he had stolen some money that we hadn't yet removed from the house. Later still, he would admit to taking some of the money, after we confronted him with it. Later still, I would change the locks in an attempt to keep him out once and for all. I know my dad would have wanted that, as much to keep him from violating the premises as me finally standing up to him.

All week, someone was around, and I don't find it easy to take myself out of the house to go work out when I have company like that. Then, when the funeral was over, I still did not have the spark I needed to get out and do something. I was pacing energy stores as well. Thursday through Sunday, we got socked with a series of storms: first ice, then rain with thunder and lightening, then heavy snow, later blowing snow and drifting. There was more snow in my driveway Saturday morning than I have seen in years. I had managed to get in a short swim Friday morning while out on other errands, but found after 20 minutes I was tired. Dealing with all the snow Saturday took away my desire to go to the gym. I stayed home and watched a movie with my grandson and made pancakes.

Sunday the family had agreed to go to Grandpa's to look around and just see things one last time. It wasn't exactly how I wanted it, since my brother had earlier moved so many things around, probably in his quest for money, as well as his drunken unreasoning logic. When he barged in again, he wondered about the changed locks, since he had tried to get in for some rolaids, as he put it. My dad did not use or have any rolaids, and I don't doubt for a minute my brother knew this. He said he was going to turn the lights on and off every day/night like my dad always did. I can only imagine how long that would last, considering he rarely bothered himself with helping my dad with anything over the last 5 years he lived there. When someone comes home from work every night on a mission to drink, then that doesn't leave much time or thought for anyone or anything else.

So the kids looked around, picking out items they would like to have eventually, looking through the old pictures, having a great time, and once again I am there but not alone with my feelilngs. When we left, I was unsettled and knew I had to go back.

After dropping my one daughter off at the airport, we again went back to my house for lunch. I had noticed an edginess in myself building over the last few days so talked my other daughter into going to the gym with me. Since we had the kids, I showed her the Sprint 8 routine I mentioned a while ago. It is short and sweet, and fit in nicely with having to watch the kids. Then it was back home for dinner. By the time everyone had gone home, it was almost 9 pm.

I decided not to go to work Monday or Tuesday. I still had some things to attend to, and the burial of the ashes will be today. I am not ready to share my emotions with some of the people I work with. They are not my friends. You would think someone you sat within 5 feet from for two years and worked with for almost 10 that they might have sent an e-mail, card, or something when I had my accident, but that showed me their true colors. Instead, all I heard was criticism for being out there: if you were home where you belonged... So I was not ready to go back and face them, whom I had heard nothing from and didn't expect to hear from. I do not want their sympathy. I just want them to leave me alone.

I thought too I would be able to go to my dad's house, alone, and just take in the atmosphere. My brother would be working. I wasn't telling my sister I was going. And all the kids were back in school. Instead, Don wanted to ride along with me, and I didn't want to tell him no, but by the time we went there, I looked around again for some papers, went to the post office to change his address, etc., I was ready to take him home too. I was really on edge. Not stressed out, just snapping at him and wanting to be alone.

I decided to go to the 5:30 spinning class then, and it was a good one. It was what I needed. I really worked out hard and it felt good. I was more relaxed when I left and actually slept fairly well last night. Still not a full night, but I expect that will change once I get back to a more normal routine. Normal, that is, without having my dad part of my life. I will miss him.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


If anyone wants to read, here is the obituary of my dad.

Well, now the funeral is over, people have gone home (almost all), and life goes on. I'm sure you all know how that feels.

I have had people around me almost continuously since last Sunday, so the only time I am alone with my thoughts is at night, and then they don't shut off. I did sleep okay last night, but its an every-other-night thing.

Some of the people I met at the funeral home visitations were people in his past life whom I had never met. They were all full of stories about their old friend. Some I had heard before, others were new to me.

Just before he died, my aunt had given him a series of newspaper articles from back in 1948 or 1949 when he and three of his buddies went to Alaska on an adventure, describing their adventures along the way, the sights they saw, and ending with them working for the railroad for six months before coming home because they were "bored." That pretty much sounds like 19 and 20 year old boys. One of those buddies showed up at the funeral home, saying he hadn't seen my dad since they got back from that trip.

Once they got back, some of them were drafted due to the Korean war, so it was easy to lose track of people from that point on. Some of them, however, served together, along with several others in the area they lived, so they formed a lifelong bond.

When my mom died, and then when my dad had his stroke shortly after, he pretty much lost touch with his old friends and his old life. He moved from the area he had lived all his life, from the home he had lived in for 47 years, where his friends knew where he was, where he went to the same grocery store, bank, gas station, etc. he had gone to for years, a routine he started over with in his new community. Whether he didn't feel able or comfortable enough to get in touch with these people, or whether he didn't remember their names, Idon't know. If he had asked me, I could have tried to contact these people for him. It might have made his last years a little less lonely. I'm sure it is a lesson learned for his friends, what happens when you don't stay in touch. Since my dad was a loner type, I never gave it a thought about his old friends. I wish I had.

When he moved to his new community, he started over a routine of going to the same places again, so people in all those places knew him and I'm sure thought he was a sweet old man, a real character. It did seem that everywhere I took him and he came in contact with people that they all enjoyed seeing him and he enjoyed interacting with him. I called some of his doctors' offices to let them know personally, and they were all saddened and commented how much they had enjoyed seeing him on a regular basis. In fact, I had thought about the fact that once he had his last chemo treatment that he might feel lonely and not have anything to look forward to on a regular basis again.

I'm trying very hard to not beat myself up on things I should have done or wished I had done, or wished I could still do. It is what it is. It was his time, and nothing I do, say, or want will change that. I'm sure with time, my regrets will fade.

I want to thank all of you who have posted to my blog, e-mailed me, or whom I have talked to. It means more than I can tell you, and even though we are separated by miles, makes me feel close to all of you. I'll be back soon.